NASA said studying UFOs will require new scientific techniques, such as more advanced satellites, as well as a change in perception of unidentified flying objects.
The space agency published its findings after spending a year studying UFOs.
In its 33-page report, an independent team commissioned by NASA warned that negative perceptions surrounding UFOs constitute an obstacle to data collection. But NASA’s involvement should help reduce the stigma that accompanies what it calls unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP).
“We want to move the conversation about UAP from sensationalism to science”said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. He promised an open and transparent approach.
Officials stressed that the panel found no evidence that the UAPs were of extraterrestrial origin. But Nelson recognized that among the billions of stars in billions of galaxies there could be another Earth.
“If you ask me if I believe there is life in a universe that is so vast that it is difficult for me to understand how big it is, my answer is yes.”Nelson said at a news conference. His own scientists said that the probability of life on another planet similar to Earth is “at least a billion”.
When journalists insisted on whether the governments of the United States or other countries are hiding extraterrestrial beings or ships, Nelson expressed: “Show me the evidence”.
NASA noted that it is not actively searching for unexplained objects. But it operates a fleet of ships that circle the Earth and can help determine, for example, whether a strange event is due to the weather.
The 16-member panel has said that artificial intelligence and machine learning are essential to identifying UFOs and other strange occurrences.
NASA recently appointed a UAP research director, but declined to disclose his identity during a Thursday morning news conference in hopes of protecting him from the threats and harassment panel members faced during the study.
However, eight hours later, NASA said it was Mark McInerney, who previously served as a liaison on the UAP issue between the space agency and the Department of Defense. He also worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center.
The scientists on the panel did not have access to any confidential documents; neither do experts in artificial intelligence and aviation, nor retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, the first American to spend almost a year in space. Instead, the group relied on unclassified data in an attempt to better understand unexplained sightings in the sky.
Officials said there are so few high-quality observations that no conclusions can be drawn. Most events can be attributed to planes, drones, balloons or weather conditions, said David Spergel, chairman of the panel and president of the Simons Foundation, a scientific research group.
The government refers to the unexplained sightings as UAPs rather than UFOs. NASA defines them as observations in the sky or elsewhere that cannot be easily identified or explained scientifically.
The study began a year ago and cost less than $100,000.