Washington — An independent group of scientists and experts convened by NASA found no evidence of itknown as UAPs or UFOs, are “extraterrestrial” in nature, but stressed that better data is needed to understand some encounters that have defied explanation.
NASA formed the group of 16 experts last year to study how the space agency can better contribute to the scientific understanding of the objects that have been reported by hundreds of military and commercial pilots.
Formally known as the Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study, the group issued its final 36-page report on Thursday with several recommendations on how the Norwegian Space Agency can use its scientific expertise to contribute to the government’s investigations into the objects.
“The best thing about the study is that there is a lot more to learn,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at a briefing on the findings. “NASA’s independent investigation team found no evidence that UAP have an extraterrestrial origin. But we don’t know what these UAP are.”
What does the NASA UAP report say?
The report contains no similar bombshell claimsit made headlines over the summer when a former intelligence officer alleged a decades-long government program to acquire and convert UAP craft, which the Defense Department denied.
Instead, the NASA group focused on exploring how the space agency can “contribute to a comprehensive, government-wide approach to collecting future data” on UAP incidents, as the report put it. A relatively new office in the Department of Defense known as the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office has taken the lead in collecting and investigating UAP reports from military pilots, which totaled about 800 as of May.
The NASA report, which was based on unclassified information, noted that a small subset of UAP encounters “cannot be immediately identified as known man-made or natural phenomena.” Understanding these incidents “will require new and robust data collection methods, advanced analytical techniques, a systematic reporting framework, and reducing reporting stigma,” the report said.
But the group said there is a high bar for claiming the objects have an otherworldly origin.
“[I]In the search for life beyond Earth, extraterrestrial life itself must be the hypothesis of last resort – the answer we turn to only after ruling out all other possibilities. As Sherlock Holmes said: “Once you have eliminated the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” the report said. “So far, in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest an extraterrestrial origin for the UAP. When it comes to the UAP, the challenge we have is that the data needed to explain these anomalous observations often does not exist.”
The report said NASA and the private sector can help fill in some of the data gaps that exist. While NASA’s Earth-pointing satellites cannot detect objects as small as UAPs, they do have the ability to “probe the state of the local Earth, oceanic and atmospheric conditions,” which may help explain some events, detected by other sensors.
“NASA assets can play a critical role in directly determining whether specific environmental factors are associated with certain reported UAP behaviors or events,” the report states.
The group said the commercial satellite industry has the ability to take higher-resolution images: “Although not every point on Earth has constant high-resolution coverage, the panel nevertheless finds that such commercial constellations can offer a powerful complement to the detection and investigation of UAP, when a coinciding collection takes place.”
Current data collection, Thursday’s report noted, “is hampered by poor sensor calibration, the lack of multiple measurements, the lack of sensor metadata, and the lack of baseline data.” The space agency’s expertise “should be widely utilized as part of a robust and systematic data collection strategy within the framework of the whole of government.”
Members held theirsabout their work in May and stressed the need for better data on UAPs across the board, including clearer images and videos of the incidents. In Thursday’s report, the research group suggested gathering crowdsourced data about encounters from the public, including through the use of “open source smartphone-based apps that simultaneously collect image data and other smartphone sensor metadata from multiple citizen observers around the world.”