- The team was studying unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAPs.
- While UFOs are commonly associated with aliens, NASA doesn’t think the phenomena are “extra-terrestrial in origin.”
NASA’s anticipated public hearing on UFOs is underway, seven months after its 16-person team began studying “events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or as known natural phenomena.”
Technically the team was studying unidentified anomalous phenomena, UAPs. NASA says they are of interest for national security as well as air safety. And without access to an extensive set of data, it is nearly impossible to verify or explain any observation,” NASA says.
“It is our collective responsibility to investigate these occurrences with the rigorous scientific scrutiny that they deserve,” Dan Evans, an associate administrator at the space agency, said at the hearing. “It’s an opportunity for us to expand our understanding of the world around us. This work is in our DNA.”
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, said understanding data surrounding UAPs is critical to drawing “scientific conclusions about what is happening in our skies. Data is the language of scientists and makes the unexplainable, explainable.”
∙ In June 2021, the office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence released a report examining unidentified aerial phenomena, determining that no “firm conclusions” could be drawn on more than 140 instances.
∙ In July 2022, the Pentagon set up the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office to, among other things, identify unidentified anomalous phenomena that might pose a threat to national security.
Panel members subject to online harassment
The team is trying to determine how data gathered by civilian government agencies, commercial data and data from other sources can potentially be analyzed to shed light on UAPs. It will then recommend a “roadmap” for potential UAP data analysis by the agency going forward.
Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the AARO, says the majority of unidentified objects reported to his agency appear to be nothing more than balloons, unmanned aerial systems, clutter, natural phenomena or other readily explainable sources, he said.
“We cannot answer decades of questions about UAP all at once, but we must begin somewhere,” Kirkpatrick told a Senate subcommittee last month. “I assure you that AARO will follow scientific evidence wherever it leads.”
The study will focus solely on unclassified data. A full report containing the team’s findings will be released to the public in mid-2023. But don’t look for fantastic revelations from highly classified government files out of Area 51, a remote and secretive U.S. Air Force testing facility in the Nevada desert. The area draws UFO fanatics from around the world, and the small town of Rachel has become a popular tourist destination on the “Extraterrestrial Highway.”
Contributing: Jordan Mendoza