NASA will commission a team to study unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), which are observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or natural phenomena, from a scientific perspective. The study team will start early this fall. The UAPs include observations of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in the sky.
According to NASA, the study will focus on identifying available data. It will also assess how best the future data can be collected, and that data will be beneficial to NASA. The US space agency will figure out ways to use the data to increase the scientific understanding of UAPs.
Why It Is Important To Study UAPs
Since the number of observations of UAPs is limited, it is difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of such events. Moreover, unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for both national security and air safety, and establishing that such events are natural provides a crucial first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena. This aligns with one of NASA’s goals to ensure the safety of aircraft.
The Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP) works with the Federal Aviation Administration, industry, and academic partners to conceive and develop Next Generation Air Transportation System technologies to further improve the safety of current and future aircraft. As of now, there is no evidence UAPs are extraterrestrial in origin.
How Will The Study Examine UFOs?
In a statement released by NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, the associated administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said that NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also. He added that NASA has access to a broad range of observations of Earth from space, and that is the lifeblood of scientific inquiry. The US space agency also had the tools and team who can help it improve the understanding of the unknown, Zurbuchen said.
Astrophysicist David Spergel, who is president of the Simons Foundation in New York City, will lead NASA’s independent study team to examine UFOs. Spergel said that given the paucity of observations, the team’s first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data that they can. The team will be identifying what data exists, what else it should try to collect, and how to best analyse it.
The study to examine UFOs is expected to take about nine months to complete, and will secure the counsel of experts in the scientific, aeronautics, and data analytics communities to focus on how best to collect new data and improve observations of UAPs.