Yes, unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) are real and a threat to national security, but they’re not from out of this world, NASA announced during a press briefing Thursday.
Last year, the agency assembled an independent panel of experts to assess how it can best identify and collect data on UAP, commonly known as UFOs.
That panel compiled its findings into a report, which NASA released on Thursday.
The report includes suggestions for new ways to study UAP and states that there’s no evidence for alien visitors to Earth.
Normal explanations for the paranormal
Flying spacecraft and little green men have long captured public imagination.
Since the Pentagon released footage in recent years showing crafts performing maneuvers seemingly impossible for any known human technology, there’s been even more attention on the phenomenon.
But such sights can usually be explained by planes, balloons, drones, weather phenomena, and instrument features, said David Spergel, the chair of the UAP Independent Study Team.
For example, a Chinese spy balloon that was spotted flying over the US earlier this year was mistaken for a UFO early on, the Atlantic reported.
That doesn’t mean alien life doesn’t exist. It just hasn’t been here on Earth, as far as we know.
“Do I think there is life in an universe so large that I can’t imagine how vast it is, if you asked me? My personal answer is yes,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in the briefing.
For alien life to come to Earth, it would need to be “a very advanced civilisation,” Nelson said. “The distance is light years, hundreds of light years, billions of light years.”
NASA’s new mission to get good data on UAP
The new report gives NASA a roadmap for using data and scientific analysis to investigate what exactly might be causing UAP.
The study team recommended using AI and machine learning to analyze data collected by NASA’s instruments, like the James Webb Space Telescope.
Nicola Fox, the head of the science directorate at NASA, said in the briefing that they can use AI to find patterns in complicated data more quickly than humans.
NASA has even created a new position just to lead those efforts: Director of UAP Research. The officials confirmed on Thursday that someone has been named to this role. However, they declined to identify the individual, citing fears of harassment.
Their goal remains to determine what caused the phenomenon. Spergel said that in any investigation into new phenomena, “the first step is to eliminate the chaff of conventional events before moving on to identify novel phenomenon.”
To do this, they explain in the report that they want to get the public involved in reporting their experiences.
Spergel said their efforts might include starting a smartphone app to help the public quickly report UAP sightings without stigma.
All of the speakers emphasized that in order to figure out what UAP are, NASA needs to collect more data and do so with a specific scientific plan.
If that science-based process turns up evidence that UAP are indeed aliens, then “you bet your boots we will say that,” Nelson said.
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