NASA picks its UFO-hunting – sorry – unidentified aerial phenomena-hunting team

The truth is out there and 16 people have been tasked to find it

NASA has announced the names of 16 individuals who will be a part of its unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) research group that begins work today.

The study into UAP, which NASA defines as sky-based events that cannot be attributed to aircraft or natural phenomena, will take around nine months to complete.

While most people would know these entities as UFOs, US government officials have preferred the acronym UAP in recent years.

Regardless of what they are called, NASA said the team studying them includes "some of the world's leading scientists, data and artificial intelligence practitioners," and "aerospace safety experts."

These include NASA alums like Mike Gold and former astronaut Scott Kelly; an individual from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); academics from University of Delaware and George Mason University, the University of Rhode Island (URI), University of California, San Diego, and other institutions; Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) affiliates; an oceanographer; CEOs; and freelance journalist and former ballerina with a doctorate in genetics, Nadia Drake.

The aerospace org says the team will lay the groundwork for future studies by identifying how data gathered by civilians, governments, commercial and other entities can shed a light on UAP. The project will culminate in a recommended "roadmap for potential UAP data analysis by the agency going forward." The findings are expected to be made public in mid-2023.

"Understanding the data we have surrounding unidentified aerial phenomena is critical to helping us draw scientific conclusions about what is happening in our skies," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington in a canned statement that categorized UAP as important for national security and air safety.

The data used in the study will be unclassified. Luckily for the researchers, Uncle Sam declassified the CIA's entire collection of UAP-related material. It's been online since 2021.

In August, the NASA UAP research project was revealed to have a $100,000 budget.

But NASA isn't the only organization putting an effort into understanding what no one is ruling out but also not calling aliens. In July 2021 the Pentagon said it would create an office to track UAP reports, and Congress has considered similar efforts.

Last week, Professor Brian Cox told The Register he thinks there may be, on average, one civilization out there in existence per galaxy. He contrasted this with physicist Sean Carroll's prediction of zero, and unnamed individuals at SETI, whom he says may predict upwards of ten instances of intelligent life in the universe. We want to believe. ®

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