Jun 9, 2022 - Science

NASA is going to investigate unidentified aerial phenomena

illustration of an alien in a beam of light

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA is setting up a team to look into reports of unidentified aerial phenomena.

Why it matters: There have been about 400 UAP sighting reports, and today, there's congressional and public interest in nailing down exactly what they could be.

  • A government report last year detailed some of the UAP sightings, concluding that some could be a threat to national security but that there was no evidence that they were caused by aliens.

What's happening: The independent team will be asked to gather as much scientific data as they can to try to learn as much as they can about these events.

  • By collecting that data, NASA hopes the team will be able to place "constraints" on what these UAPs could be.
  • “Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data that we can,” astrophysicist David Spergel, the head of the team, said in a statement.
  • “We will be identifying what data — from civilians, government, non-profits, companies — exists, what else we should try to collect, and how to best analyze it.”
  • The data the team collects will be publicly available.

Between the lines: NASA isn't doing this because officials believe these UAPs are alien in origin.

  • "Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for both national security and air safety," the statement reads. "Establishing which events are natural provides a key first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena, which aligns with one of NASA’s goals to ensure the safety of aircraft."
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