Nasa will conduct a nine-month study of unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, the space agency announced Thursday, but agency officials do not expect any findings on what UAPs actually are. At least not yet.
In a media conference call Thursday afternoon, Nasa officials laid out their plan for the study, which will start in early fall and help create a “roadmap” for studying UAPs, the new term for what was once known as UFOS became. A team selected by Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate and led by astrophysicist David Spergel will review telescope, satellite and atmospheric data to see what publicly available data Nasa could combine to study UAPs.
“The first step in any investigation is to find out what data you have; that’s all this study does,” said Daniel Evans, deputy associate administrator for research in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “That’s just step one. What data is out there that can be used?”
The Nasa announcement comes just weeks after the US Congress held the first UFO/UAP hearings in decades, during which intelligence officials briefed lawmakers on an ongoing Pentagon investigation into UAPs and shared videos of unexplained UAP encounters with military aviators showed. The hearing offered no conclusions, and the secrecy of much of the data forced lawmakers and intelligence officials to retire to a closed session to discuss more details.
In contrast, according to Dr. Evans will remain fully transparent and available to the public, while also relying solely on unclassified material.
“The full report will be made available to the public and we expect to hold a public meeting to discuss our findings,” he said.
dr Evans added that the study will have a budget of between “tens of thousands of dollars” and $100,000.
Speaking about the scope of the study he will lead, Dr. Sperger: “We actually have a wealth of data about our atmosphere. We watch it from above as well as from below. Whether it’s air traffic control data, astronomers looking up, or satellites looking down,” he said. “We want to start synthesizing the data that we have.”
dr Evans and Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, noted that they were not aware of any previous attempts by NASA to collect such data to shed light on the nature of UAPs.
dr Sperger, like the other officials speaking Thursday, didn’t specifically mention the possibility that UAPs could represent some form of intelligent extraterrestrial life, instead saying, “The only preconceived notion I have on this is that we should be open to.” the idea that we “We are looking at several different phenomena” and not just a single type of event.
“One of the most exciting things in science is things we don’t understand,” he added.
The new study was led by Dr. Zurbuchen, who while mentioning Nasa’s ongoing efforts to look for signatures of extraterrestrial civilizations on distant exoplanets, also avoided directly addressing the hypothesis that UAPs are a form of extraterrestrial technology. But, he added, “the scientific process is a valid process for all problems, including this one.”