NASA has joined the search for the extraterrestrial craft. The space agency unveiled new research on Thursday that will enlist the help of leading scientists to investigate unexplained aerial phenomena, a topic that has long piqued the public’s interest and has recently received high-level congressional attention.
The research will begin early this fall and run for about nine months, with the goal of identifying existing data, determining how to collect more data in the future, and analyzing the findings to help NASA advance scientific understanding.
“NASA has answered the call to solve some of the most intriguing riddles we know of throughout the decades, and this is no different,” Daniel Evans, the NASA scientist in charge of the study, told reporters over the phone.
While NASA’s probes and rovers scan the solar system for ancient microbial fossils and astronomers search for “techno signatures” on faraway worlds for hints of intelligent civilizations, this is the first time the agency will look into strange events in Earth’s skies.
NASA is well-positioned to not just debunk UFOs and enhance scientific understanding, but also to develop measures to reduce the phenomenon, which is a crucial element of the agency’s mandate to protect aviation safety, according to NASA’s chief scientist, Thomas Zurbuchen.
The announcement comes at a time when UFO research, which was formerly viewed as a fringe field, is garnering increasing mainstream attention.
Last month, Congress convened a public hearing on UFOs, and a US intelligence assessment released last year listed 144 sightings as unexplainable. It didn’t rule out the possibility of an extraterrestrial origin.
Although NASA’s research would be separate from the Pentagon’s Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group, the space agency said in a statement that it “has coordinated widely throughout the government over how to utilize the tools of science.”
The scientific community is currently finding it difficult to form conclusions due to a scarcity of UFO sightings.
As a result, according to astronomer David Spergel, who will lead the research, the group’s first duty will be to determine the scope of data available from consumers, government, organizations, and businesses.
NASA’s primary goal is to increase credibility in this field of study. “Among our navy aviators and aviation community, there is a lot of stigmas connected with UAP,” Evans said.
“One of the things we aim to achieve tangentially as part of this project, simply by talking about it in the open, is to help eliminate some of the stigma connected with it, and that will clearly result in increased access to data, more reports, and more sightings,” she says.