NASA is commissioning a study team to start early in the Fall to examine unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) – that is, observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena – from a scientific perspective.
The study will focus on identifying available data, how best to collect future data, and how NASA can use that data to move the scientific understanding of UAPs forward, the U.S. space agency said.
Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for both national security and air safety. Establishing which events are natural provides a key first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena, which aligns with one of NASA’s goals to ensure the safety of aircraft. There is no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin.
Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said: “We have access to a broad range of observations of Earth from space – and that is the lifeblood of scientific inquiry. We have the tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown. That’s the very definition of what science is. That’s what we do.”
The agency is not part of the Department of Defense’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force or its successor, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group. NASA has, however, coordinated widely across the government regarding how to apply the tools of science to shed light on the nature and origin of unidentified aerial phenomena.
The independent study team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, who is president of the Simons Foundation in New York City.
The study is expected to take about nine months to complete.
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