NASA Wants UFO Discussion to “Shift from Sensationalism to Science”

NASA Wants UFO Discussion to “Shift from Sensationalism to Science”

NASA released the report of its year-long analysis of unclassified data about Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena, more commonly known as UFOs, today. Government interest in UAPs has skyrocketed in recent years after reports by a several military pilots of sightings they cannot explain. The government is less concerned about extraterrestrial aliens than adversaries fielding advanced technologies that might threaten national defense. NASA wants to “shift from sensationalism to science” and appointed a director to continue NASA’s open and transparent UAP research.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson decided last year to create an independent group to determine what unclassified UAP data is available and how the scientific process can be used to help determine what’s going on. The agency limited itself to unclassified UAP information so it could share its findings openly with the public.

Chaired by astrophysicist David Spergel, the NASA Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Team issued its report today. Spergel is the former chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton and is now President of the Simons Foundation in New York.

During a briefing today, Nelson said personally he thinks in this vast universe there likely is other intelligent life somewhere, but there is no evidence so far that UAPs are of extraterrestrial origin. On the other hand, “we don’t know what these UAP are.”

L-R: Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator; Nicky Fox, NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator; Dan Evans, NASA SMD Deputy AA for Research; David Spergel, Chair, UAP Independent Study Team. Screengrab.

Nelson and others at the briefing reiterated again and again that their goal is to “shift the conversation from sensationalism to science.”

Toward that end, Mark McInerney has been appointed as the agency’s new Director of UAP Research. McInerney’s career includes stints as NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, NOAA, the National Hurricane Center and most recently as NASA’s liaison to DOD on UAPs.

DOD has its own All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) created at congressional direction. “All-domain” refers to the five military domains: air, land, sea, space and cyber. AARO leads the whole-of-government approach to UAPs and just launched a website with public information about UAPs and will add a “secure reporting tool” to allow government employees, service members or contractors to make a report.

Some DOD information is classified, and NASA is stressing it will stick to unclassified data to enable openness and transparency both with this report and as work continues in the future. However, they declined to provide McInerney’s name during the briefing lest he be subjected to the same type of harassment and threats on social media as some of the study team members endured. Later in the day, though, they did decide to reveal his identity.

In addition to using NASA’s own earth-observing assets and those of commercial remote sensing companies, the report urges the agency to fully engage with the public in order to obtain high-quality, scientifically useful data. “Public engagement … will be vital” and they are looking into the possibility of a crowdsourcing system perhaps using smartphone apps to gather images and other data when an event is happening.

DOD is leading the government’s UAP effort, but NASA can help “through systematic data calibration, multiple measurements and ensuring thorough sensor metadata to create a data set that is both reliable and extensive for future UAP study,” Spergel said.

The study also recommends that the Aviation Safety Reporting System for UAP reporting by commercial pilots be “better leveraged” to provide a “critical database for the whole-of-government effort to understand UAP.”

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