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NASA Creates Research Team to Study UFOs

NASA UFO
In this April 28, 2020 file photo, a video grab image courtesy of the US Department of Defense shows an ‘unidentified aerial phenomena. Credit: DoD

NASA announced on Thursday it plans to assemble a team of scientists to examine “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP)—commonly termed UFOs.

The study team to be led by astrophysicist David Spergel under NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will attempt to identify what data is out there on UFOs and figure out how to best capture data on UFOs in the future.

NASA noted that the limitations in sightings make it hard to come to logical conclusions about where UFOs come from. The researchers will also try to identify how “NASA can use that data to move the scientific understanding forward,” according to a NASA blog post.

The study will be open and unclassified, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for science at NASA.

NASA: Protecting air safety

NASA says that studying UAP sightings does align with the space agency’s interests even though aliens are unlikely to be the source of any UAPs.

Discerning between UAPs caused by natural phenomena or perhaps some kind of technology is crucial for one of NASA’s less well-known goals: protecting air safety.

Though NASA is known for its efforts in space exploration, the first “A” in NASA does stand for aeronautics, after all.

“The way we think about this at NASA is consistent with our principles of openness, transparency, and scientific integrity,” Zurbuchen said during a livestreamed talk at the National Academies of Sciences’ Space Studies Board meeting. “We are not shying away from reputational risk.”

UFOs or UAPs studied by the Pentagon

In June of last year, the Pentagon released its own report on the potential origins of UAPs, listing five possible explanations for what pilots have been seeing in the skies.

While many of the explanations were more benign, such as airborne clutter and natural atmospheric phenomenon, the Pentagon also listed a fifth classification of “other” for events and sightings it could not explain.

On May 17th, a subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing to check in on the UAP Task Force, the first time Congress had held a public hearing on UFOs in more than fifty years.

During the hearing, Scott Bray, the deputy director of US naval intelligence, claimed that the UAP Task Force had collected four hundred reports of UAP sightings. He also presented two videos of UAPs, one of which was just a few seconds long showing a small spherical object moving quickly across the camera. Bray used it as an example to show just how little detail pilots may at times get during UAP sightings.

However, Bray also argued that aliens weren’t the answer. “When it comes to material that we have, we have no material—we have detected no emanations within the UAP Task Force that would suggest it’s anything non-terrestrial in origin,” Bray said.

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