NASA program to investigate UFOs, with all data to be made public
Strange sights in the skies have been reported for centuries, but these UFOs have rarely been taken seriously by the scientific community. Following on from a recent hearing by the United States Congress into “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAPs), NASA has now announced that it’s commissioning a team to investigate the mystery.
Long the realm of conspiracy crackpots, UFOs have had a bit of a resurgence in recent years. In 2017 the New York Times published three videos recorded by instruments onboard US Navy fighter jets that appeared to show objects moving through the skies at great speed and pulling off maneuvers that should be impossible for known aircraft. A few years later, the Pentagon confirmed their authenticity and formally released the videos.
In 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) produced an official report on the subject, now rebranded as UAPs. The report proposed five categories of possible explanations: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, technology from the US government or industry, foreign aircraft, and a catch-all “Other” designation. Earlier this year, Congress held hearings into UAPs based on this report.
All this renewed attention on the subject has now culminated in NASA joining the hunt. Although it’s a government agency, NASA’s team will operate independently of the Department of Defense programs. It will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, and orchestrated by Daniel Evans, assistant deputy associate administrator for research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The aerial phenomena study will focus on identifying data already available, the best ways to collect data in the future, and how that data can be analyzed to better understand UAPs. Experts in science, aeronautics and data analytics will be consulted.
“Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data that we can,” said Spergel. “We will be identifying what data – from civilians, government, non-profits, companies – exists, what else we should try to collect, and how to best analyze it.”
NASA estimates that the project will take about nine months to complete, and the report and all data gathered throughout will be made public.
It’s best to temper expectations about those findings, especially any assumptions of extraterrestrial origins. But regardless, NASA getting onboard is a major step, and the results should provide some fascinating insights into this long-standing mystery.
“Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for many reasons,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters. “Frankly, I think there’s new science to be discovered. Many times where something that looked almost magical turned out to be a new scientific effect. But there’s also national security and air safety issues that relate to these observations. And establishing whether they’re natural or need to be explained otherwise, is very much aligned with NASA’s goals.”
An audio recording of a teleconference discussing the new study can be heard in the video below.