This week, a team of NASA researchers has begun a formal investigation into UFOs, now referred to as unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). Will they conclude we've been visited by alien life?
The study will last for nine months and the team will report their findings to the public in mid-2023, says NASA.
A disappointing 2021 report from the United States government about 144 unidentified flying objects, declared in a nine page report more or less what we already suspected. Namely, the US government has no idea what a series of strange “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” could possibly be.
Since then, the argument has grown to fund a different approach in order to try and make some scientific sense of what these mysterious UAPs may be. Historically, the military / intelligence organizations have taken a non-scientific approach to the topic, “which is ‘We’re not interested in this as a scientific issue. That’s not on our agenda,’” Pennsylvania State University historian Greg Eghigian told Scientific American. However, NASA will approach the matter with a different, scientific mindset.
Developing an understanding of UAPs isn't just about looking for alien life. The flying objects could have implications for national security, and NASA hopes the findings will improve aircraft safety. Collecting data on UAPs might be a first step in mitigating them to better protect air traffic.
So far, NASA doesn’t have a hypothesis for what UAPs may be. “I would say the only preconceived notion I have coming into this is that you should be open to the idea that we’re looking at several different phenomena,” David Spergel, who will lead the research effort and is the president of the Simons Foundation. “This is a phenomenon we don’t understand. And we want to collect more data.”
For now, though, “there is no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin,” NASA said in a statement. But even if the study reveals nothing about alien life, it might still learn something new about Earth’s atmosphere, wrote Scientific American.