NASA is officially in the search for UFOs. In June, the government organization announced that it would provide scientific context to the Pentagon’s ongoing UFO investigations.
It’s a controversial field, to say the least. Last year, the Director of National Intelligence issued a UFO report on 140+ unexplained object sightings. But NASA clearly does not believe these UFOs are of alien origin, so why are they launching this investigation? Here’s the deal behind what’s happening.
NASA Hasn’t Always Thought Fondly of Searching for UFOs
NASA has a long history with UFOs. The term dates back to the 1950s — even the first astronauts reported seeing unidentified objects during their flights. Apollo 16 astronauts captured a UFO in the footage, and it remained a decades-long mystery. But in 2004, NASA determined that the object in question was a floodlight attached to the spacecraft.
One of NASA’s core missions is to explore the unknown, and the agency has sent out multiple spacecraft to search for signs of present and past alien life explicitly. The Voyager spacecraft even harbored messages for alien civilizations. But NASA has always declined to engage in the conversation around UFOs.
Now, that’s changed. NASA is assembling a team to study “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAPs) headed by David Spergel, a respected astrophysicist. They’ll be building on the work of other governmental agencies, such as the Pentagon, but NASA is working on this project independently.
Other Agencies Have Already Begun Studying UFOs
NASA isn’t the first official organization to commission a study on UFOs. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, located within the Pentagon, released a UFO report in 2021. That report makes clear that 143 of 144 UAP sightings are unexplained. A congressional hearing on UFOs followed this report in May 2022.
But the study of UFOs within the U.S. government goes back much further than this. While NASA is only entering the fray now, Project Blue Book was a secret investigation by the U.S. Air Force into UAPs that took place from 1947 to 1969 (that supposedly included information on the Roswell incident of 1947). The report was later declassified, and of a total of 12,618 UAP sightings during the investigation period, 701 still do not have explanations.
Research on UAPs, especially within the military, continues today. In 2020, the Department of Defense established the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), located within the Department of the Navy. The chief interest of UAPTF is cataloging unidentified objects and determining whether they might threaten national security. This has been the primary driver of virtually all searches for UFOs within the US government — until now.
NASA Brings a Scientific Perspective to the Search for UFOs
NASA has made one clear: The organization does not believe that UAPs are of extraterrestrial origin. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth studying, which is why the agency is building this team. The aim here is to gather as much data as possible on these phenomena to improve UAP observations in the future.
“Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data we can,” said David Spergel, the committee president, in a NASA release. “We will identify what data — from civilians, government, non-profits, companies — exists, what else we should try to collect, and how to best analyze it.”
The results of this study will be available to the general public, unlike the Pentagon’s research. Anyone can see what NASA finds in its search for UFOs.
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