NASA experts looked through 800 UFO sightings and found essentially nothing
We need better data! If only everyone could carry a high-quality camera and apps to share pics...
Video Experts leading NASA's study on unidentified anomalous phenomena – what we now call UFOs – have studied 800 unclassified events recorded over 27 years, and found that only two to five percent of cases are truly unexplainable.
The panel, formed last year, is made up of 16 people ranging from scientists and biz execs to federal employees and a former astronaut. They've been studying reports of UFO sightings over the past seven months.
In the panel's first public hearing, held on Wednesday, David Spergel, a retired astrophysics professor of Princeton University, called for the need to collect better data to study and understand UAP.
"Right now there's a very limited number of high quality observations and data curation of UAP," he said in his opening remarks.
"The existing data available from eyewitness reports are often muddled and cannot provide conclusive evidence that supports the UAP recognition and analysis.
"Additionally, an object's background can complicate the data further and render it unusable due to conventional objects that can mimic or overshadow the phenomena completely, such as commercial aircraft, military equipment to the weather, and ionospheric phenomenon like auroras. This lack of high-quality data makes it impossible to draw scientific conclusions on the nature of UAP."
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NASA defines UAP as "observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective." Although people, generally speaking, look at weird stuff in the sky and wonder, however briefly, if it's evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the US government is more interested in whether these sightings are of foreign hardware that poses a threat to national security.
The objects could be aircraft flown by other countries for defense or intelligence purposes, such as China's not-spying-spy balloons spotted earlier this year; more often than not they're benign, like the reported Bart Simpson balloon. The panel only analyzed unclassified events, and hopes to publish its findings in a report later this year.
Panel member Nadia Drake, a freelance science journalist, estimated that only two to five percent of the 800 sightings the panel studied were anomalous. Spergel said it wasn't NASA's job to "resolve the nature of these events," but to guide the space agency and provide a "roadmap" of how it can help the US government study UAP.
You can replay the whole session from Wednesday below.
"The defense and intelligence agency data on UAP are often classified primarily because of how the data is collected," he said, "not because what's in the data. The camera on an F-35 took a picture of a bird: it's classified. Spy satellite takes an image of a balloon, as we've had in the news some balloons recently, that's classified, and that's because of a desire to not reveal our technical capabilities to other nations."
Instead, NASA should focus on encouraging public collection of data in a more systematic way, and reduce the stigma of reporting UAP: if you see something odd, you're not a loon for letting Uncle Sam know. He even suggested that the agency could develop a mobile app that allows people to submit and share sightings.
"The current existing data and eyewitness reports alone are insufficient to provide conclusive evidence about the nature and origin of every UAP event," he concluded.
"They're often uninformative due to lack of quality control, and data curation. To understand UAP, better targeted data collection, thorough data curation, and robust analyses are needed. Such an approach will help to discern unexplained gap sightings, but even then there's no guarantee that all sightings can be explained." ®