The U.S space agency NASA has announced it has put together a team to study what it is calling unidentified aerial phenomena – or UAPs – more commonly known as unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
In a release posted Thursday to its website, the agency said the team will begin its work in early fall to study events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena. They said the study will focus on identifying available data, how best to collect future data, and how NASA can use the data to advance scientific understanding of UAPs.
The agency says unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest not only to science, but to both national security and air safety. In its release, NASA said establishing which events are naturally occurring is a key first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena, and in line with the goal of ensuring air safety.
NASA made a point to say there is no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin.
The independent study team will be led by astrophysicist and president of New York’s Simons Foundation David Spergel. He is also the former chairman of Princeton University’s astrophysics department.
“Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data that we can,” said Spergel. “We will be identifying what data – from civilians, government, nonprofits, companies – exists, what else we should try to collect, and how to best analyze it.”
“NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters 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. 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 study is expected to take about nine months to complete. Once done, the team will present its final report to the public.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.