Most unidentified anomalous phenomena – formerly known as UFOs – can be explained without jumping to an alien explanation, according to NASA.
But only better data and reduced stigma will lead to an understanding of what are now called Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena, or UAPs for short.
NASA convened its first public panel discussion on the study of UAPs on Thursday. During the meeting, experts from the Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Team indicated a public report on their preliminary findings would be finalised in the coming months.
Announced last year, the team’s 16 members were finalised in October 2022, among them leading scientists, data and artificial intelligence specialists, and aerospace safety experts.
In opening the meeting, Dr Dan Evans – the team’s designated federal official – explained the panel’s main objective is to chart a roadmap for UAP analysis, rather than “to go back and look at grainy footage of UAPs”.
The panel discussed the need to scientifically determine the origin and potential safety issues related to unidentified phenomena using better data.
Actual UAPs low, say experts
The final report and its recommendations are informed by unclassified data from civilian government bodies, commercial entities and other sources, such as the public.
The scientists explained that, of the reported UAP sightings, those that could not be identified as aircraft or natural phenomena after scientific analysis were in the single digit percentages.
Panel chair and astrophysicist David Spergel says that figure would likely improve with access to higher quality information.
“The current data collection efforts regarding UAPs are unsystematic and fragmented across various agencies, often using instruments uncalibrated for scientific data collection,” Spergel says.
“And if I think about the data that people have out there, it’s in many ways what we’d think of as citizen science. But again, it is uncalibrated data, poorly characterised and not well curated.”
While most phenomena can be explained by aircraft, balloons and weather events, Spergel says: “Current existing data and eyewitness reports alone are insufficient to provide conclusive evidence about the nature and origin of every UAP event.”
He said better quality control and data curation will help discern unexplained UAP sightings.
“But even then, there’s no guarantee that all sightings will be explained.”
The panel also noted stigma around UAP reporting prevents members of the public coming forward with their evidence. Spergel noted that commercial pilots are particularly reluctant to report anomalies. The team hopes that NASA can play a role in removing stigma.
NASA’s efforts to provide a roadmap for studying UAPs come more than two years after the CIA declassified vast swathes of UFO files to much public excitement in 2021.
While announcements by the UAP panel haven’t revealed a scientifically verified alien encounter, its admission of anomalies is unlikely to lower the extra-terrestrial excitement threshold. For alien enthusiasts, the truth remains out there.
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