“Data is the language of scientists and makes the unexplainable, explainable” was the rationale of NASA’s science chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, last week as he explained why the space agency launched a new team of experts to study unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), aka UFOs.
UAPs, as NASA explains, are described as “observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or as known natural phenomena.” Earlier this year, the Pentagon confirmed that the list of documented UAP sightings currently stands at 400 – most of which are still beyond the realms of logical explanation.
NASA’s first-of-its-kind UAP panel is composed of 16 individuals, each of whom is a world-class expert in their respective fields including physics, astrobiology, artificial intelligence and aerospace engineering.
Over the course of nine months the group will analyze unclassified data on documented UAP sightings, and will aim to shed light on the potential nature of the recorded encounters.
In mid-2023, the independent study group will release a publicly available report of their findings – a summary which NASA hopes will “lay the groundwork for future study” and provide a “roadmap” to navigate new UAP encounters.
“Exploring the unknown in space and the atmosphere is at the heart of who we are at NASA,” said Zurbuchen, “understanding the data we have surrounding unidentified aerial phenomena is critical to helping us draw scientific conclusions about what is happening in our skies.”
We’ve selected 16 individuals to participate in an independent study team on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), or observations in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena. The nine-month study will begin on Oct. 24: https://t.co/RsVP4kggwd pic.twitter.com/OQ5XecW0Ai
— NASA (@NASA) October 21, 2022
Who is part of the group? And why them?
The group of 16 were chosen by Daniel Evans, the study’s orchestrator and deputy to Zurbuchen. Selected for their individual excellence, they form a strong foundation of interdisciplinary knowledge that will help NASA unpack the mystery of the world’s unidentified aerial phenomena.
“NASA has brought together some of the world’s leading scientists, data and artificial intelligence practitioners, aerospace safety experts, all with a specific charge, which is to tell us how to apply the full focus of science and data to UAP,” said Evans.
A snapshot of some of NASA’s UAP team members:
- David Spergel, Chair of the group, Director of Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics – Theoretical Astrophysics.
- Anamaria Berea, Professor at George Mason University – Computational and Data Science in Astrobiology
- Paula Bontempi, Biological oceanographer – Earth Science, Biogeochemistry
- Nadia Drake, Science journalist – astronomy, astrophysics, planetary sciences writer for National Geographic and Scientific American
- David Grinspoon, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute Tucson, Arizona – Planetology, Astrobiology
- Scott Kelly, Former NASA astronaut, test pilot, fighter pilot, and US Navy captain
- Matt Mountain, President of The Association of Universities for Research and Astronomy (AURA) – Telescope scientist, NASA’s Hubble Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope
- Warren Randolph, Deputy Executive Director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Accident Investigation and Prevention for Aviation Safety department – Aviation safety, aerodynamics, security, defense, former U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force
- Shelley Wright, Professor at the University of California, San Diego – Physics, Astrophysics and Space Studies, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researcher and instrumentalist
What will they study?
The group first convened last Monday, October 24, beginning their investigation by consolidating data from multiple sources – civilian, government and commercial entities – to create fresh NASA policy on how UAP data can be best collected and analyzed going forward. Their roadmap will help the space agency and other organisations to better understand what’s going on with these mysterious objects in the sky.
NASA first announced they would be commissioning the study team back in June, at which time they explained that there was “no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin.”
“The study will 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,” said NASA in June.
“Without access to an extensive set of data, it is nearly impossible to verify or explain any observation,” NASA stated in October.
Related Articles: Climate Change on Mars: How Ancient Alien Life May Have Triggered Their Own Extinction | Aliens on Mars? NASA Discovers Signs of Ancient Life | NASA’s Return to the Moon on Hold | NASA Dart Test Could Save Earth
The space agency did however go on to say that it’s currently quite difficult to “draw scientific conclusions” on the nature of UAPs due to a lack of available data, and that the findings of their working group could be extremely important both for US national security and aviation safety.
Several hypotheses of the potential origin of UAPs have been floating around as of late, but further investigation will be required to distinguish whether they are simply natural atmospheric anomalies, advanced aerial technologies from countries such as Russia or China, or whether it’s possible they may in fact be alien in nature.
“NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also,” says Zurbuchen, explaining that they have access to “a broad range of observations of Earth from space” and that now, with this study, they have the “tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown.”
Two things are for certain: 1) the UAPs are most definitely real, and 2) their presence in our atmosphere poses a realistic threat to aviation safety.
What’s still left to determine is whether the threat we are dealing with is inanimate, earthly, deliberate, or even possibly hostile in nature and intent.
The Pentagon’s UFO taskforce
This latest UAP study has commenced against a backdrop of other UFO fire-stoking discoveries and task forces, all attempting to search for extraterrestrial life and demystify the aerial phenomena which currently lie beyond the realms of explanation.
NASA’s Perseverence rover recently discovered possible biosignatures of ancient microbial alien life on the rocky surface of Mars, and earlier this year the Pentagon established a new Department of Defense (DoD) office to identify and track UFOs.
The UFO report concludes that strange aircraft have been haunting U.S. warships for years, marking a new era for “unidentified aerial phenomena" https://t.co/ghnbiHruCA
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) June 10, 2022
The mission of this new DoD office is to mitigate any threats posed by UAPs to the “safety of operations and national security,” citing several categories of phenomena they plan to keep a close eye on – “anomalous, unidentified space, airborne, submerged and transmedium objects.”
The creation of this taskforce was sparked by both an increasing amount of UAP evidence recorded by military aircraft sensors, as well as many first-hand sightings of objects in the sky reported by Navy pilots – entities many believe to be UFOs.
One particularly startling Pentagon-verified encounter was captured on video by the Navy, and shows an unidentified object seemingly disappearing from the air into the water. The nature of this particular incident involving movement in both the atmosphere and water perhaps alludes to why the Pentagon included “transmedium” as one of the defining UAP characteristics they would investigate.
Ahead of this task force’s creation, last year the US Office of National Intelligence released a long-awaited report to outline its current understanding of UAPs, as well as the potential threat they may pose. In the report, they stated that the objects “probably lack a single explanation.”
Out of the 144 UAP analyzed in the investigation, only one was able to be explained, and that was as a “large, deflating balloon.” The officials did however note that “some potential patterns do emerge” in UAP behavior, namely similarities in their “shape, size, and, particularly, propulsion.”
Some of the UAP sightings studied in the report involved objects that appeared to use “advanced technology.” This assumption was based on the fact that 21 of the accounts noted “unusual movement patterns or flight characteristics” such as the ability to “remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, manoeuvre abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion.”
The conclusion of the study was that the recorded UAP may be attributed to five possible categories:
- Airborne Clutter: birds, balloons, drones, or airborne debris like plastic bags
- Natural Atmospheric Phenomena: ice crystals, moisture, and thermal fluctuations
- US Government or Industry Developmental Programs: objects as part of classified US programs
- Foreign Adversary Systems: technologies deployed by China, Russia, another nation, or a non-governmental entity.
- Other: objects that require additional scientific knowledge to successfully characterize, aka aliens.
A turning point in the search for life
For many years, UFO fanatics have marvelled at what kind of secrets might be concealed within “Area 51” and other classified locations and reports; and given the scores of implausible stories, it’s fair to say that, more often than not, it seemed their imaginations got the better of them.
But – as the implementation of these government task forces and NASA study groups suggests – the current climate on the search for extraterrestrial life (though not yet broaching tall, green-skinned, googly-eyed looking creatures) has moved past debunking “fake” sightings or wacky theories. The governments and organizations of the world are steadily moving towards relying on “the tools of science” to provide concrete answers.
In the interest of security, safety and existential curiosity, hopefully the findings of NASA’s UAP study will begin to shed more light on the mysterious objects seen in our skies. But whether they’re natural, hostile, or other-worldly in nature, is yet to be determined.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Cloud formations at sunset over the Ochil Hills in Scotland. Featured Photo Credit: Brian Smith/Flickr