NASA to commission independent UFO study

The truth is out there, and the space agency intends to find it – scientifically

Over recent years, Uncle Sam has loosened its tight-lipped if not dismissive stance on UFOs, or "unidentified aerial phenomena", lest anyone think we're talking about aliens. Now, NASA is the latest body to get in on the act.

In a statement released June 9, the space agency announced it would be commissioning a study team, starting work in the fall, to examine unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs, which it defined as "observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena."

NASA emphasized that the study would be from a "scientific perspective" – because "that's what we do" – and 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."

US authorities claim the renewed zeal for such phenomena is driven by national security and air safety concerns, and NASA is no different, with the latter being one of the agency's many fields of responsibility.

"The limited number of observations of UAPs currently makes it difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of such events... 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," NASA said in its statement.

In a likely ineffective attempt to soothe the crackpot brigade, NASA added: "There is no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin."

"NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA HQ in Washington. "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."

David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation and previously the chair of the astrophysics department at Princeton University, has been tapped to lead the team, while Daniel Evans, assistant deputy associate administrator for research at NASA's Science Mission Directorate, will serve as the NASA official responsible for orchestrating the study.

Spergel said: "Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data that we can. 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 expects the research to take around nine months, at the end of which the report will be made public. "Consistent with NASA's principles of openness, transparency, and scientific integrity, this report will be shared publicly," said Evans. "All of NASA's data is available to the public – we take that obligation seriously – and we make it easily accessible for anyone to see or study."

The investigation will also "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."

While NASA gave a nod to the Department of Defense's Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force and its successor, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, the agency said it was not a part of these initiatives, though it has "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."

Somewhat amusingly, although NASA insisted we're not talking about alien spacecraft, the statement went on to celebrate the agency's astrobiology program, which focuses on "the origins, evolution, and distribution of life beyond Earth."

So are we or are we not talking about aliens?

Ronald Moultrie, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, faced a similar predicament last month during a hearing of the House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee on UAPs, where he was asked by chairman Rep André Carson (D-IN) whether he was a sci-fi fan.

He responded: "I have mentioned to you that, yes, I have followed science fiction. I have gone to conventions, even, I'll say it on the record. Gotta break the ice somehow.

"I have done that, but there's nothing wrong with that. I don't necessarily dress up, but I do believe it's important to show that the Department of Defense, we have character. And we're people just like you, just like the American people. We have our inquisitiveness. We have our questions. We want to know what's out there just as much as you want to know what's out there."

So, in other words, the truth is indeed out there, and NASA intends to find it – scientifically.

We await the results of the study with great interest. In the meantime, don't forget that you can thumb through reams of documentation on UFOs, UAPs, and even weirder stuff allegedly harvested by the CIA from global sources since 1996. ®

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