Orion Archaeological Expedition
The expedition occurred some time during the Human-Covenant War and consisted of a team of civilian scientists including Esko Korpijaakko. The expedition came to Coral after explosive blasting during routine quarrying revealed a mysterious object - a Forerunner artifact. The expedition was joined by a United Nations Space Command science team as well as Office of Naval Intelligence agents after it became apparent that the object, while undeniably alien, was not in fact Covenant in origin. UNSC involvement gave the expedition access to better resources and technology, although the ONI agents imposed a high level of secrecy on the expedition, censoring the scientists' mail, and, as they were not themselves archaeologists, had unrealistic expectations about how quickly the dig should progress. Overall, however, UNSC involvement was extremely helpful, and the expedition managed to excavate at least 80 meters of the artifact.
The Coral artifact itself was constructed of a metallic crystal and was architecturally perfect. Its symmetry was "impossibly accurate", and its walls were of equal height, even to a near-atomic scale. It was rich in detail, adorned with decorative artistic motifs. Its method of manufacturing was unexplainable. When it was discovered, the surrounding rock was evaporated by explosive to a depth of 30 meters but the object itself remained unscorched or otherwise affected. Further excavation revealed that this was only the top of the object, that underneath there existed a complex of galleries and vaults, although these remained sealed. It was feared that the objects secrets have been lost to time, although the expedition - and the UNSC - hoped that something could be learned from it that would aid in the war effort.
By 2552, Coral was reported to have been attacked by the Covenant and at least partially glassed. The current status of the expedition is therefore unknown, as if the expedition had not yet concluded it would have had to abandoned the artifact to the Covenant or faced annihilation.