The team will gather data on “events in the sky that cannot be identified as known aircraft or natural phenomena – from a scientific perspective”, the agency said.
NASA said it was interested in UAPs from a safety and security perspective. There was no evidence that the UAPs were of extraterrestrial origin, NASA added. The study will begin this fall and is expected to last nine months.
“NASA believes the tools of science discovery are powerful and apply here as well,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Missions Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
“We have access to a wide range of Earth observations from space – and that is the cornerstone of scientific research. We have the tools and the team that can help us improve our understanding of the Earth. unknown. That’s the very definition of what science is. . That’s what we do.”
The team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation in New York.
NASA said the limited number of UAP sightings made it difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of such events.
“Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to put together the strongest data set possible,” said Spergel, professor emeritus and former chair of the department of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University in New York. Jersey. “We will identify what data – from civilians, government, nonprofits, businesses – exists, what else we should be trying to collect, and how best to analyze it.”
A first step for the team would be to try to establish which UAPs are natural, NASA said.
The search for life
NASA has long been tasked with finding life elsewhere, which is why astrobiology programs are high on the agency’s agenda, Zurbuchen said. The Perseverance rover is currently searching for signs of ancient life that may have existed on Mars while future missions are being developed to search for signs of life on the ocean worlds of our solar system. The agency seeks to explore the unknown in air and space, Zurbuchen said.
“We are trying to find out whether certain environments are actually part of, if you will, the ladder of life that got us to where we are,” he told a news conference on Thursday.
The agency will approach the UAP study as it would any other scientific study – taking a data-poor area and making it worthy of scientific investigation and analysis.
“There are many times when something that seemed almost magical turned out to be a new scientific effect,” Zurbuchen said.
Given the national security and aviation safety issues that have been raised with UAPs, scientists want to examine the sightings and determine if they are natural or need to be explained otherwise.
Although talking about PAN in a mainstream science environment might be looked down upon or seen as something unrelated to science, Zurbuchen “vehemently opposes it.”
“I really believe that the quality of science is measured not only by the results that come from it, but also by the questions that we are prepared to address with science,” he said.
NASA officials have long thought about how to study UAPs formally, but wanted to make sure they were approaching it the right way, Zurbuchen said. The quality of the scientific investigation must be the same, whatever the subject.
But this study will be entirely unclassified and in the public domain, and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is leading the charge. Zurbuchen said he was unaware of any previous systematic review of UAP data by NASA.
The purpose of the study is to propose a research agenda that can be implemented once the researchers have assessed the existing data and it needs to be reviewed.
The full report will be made available to the public and the research team will hold a public meeting to discuss the results, Daniel Evans, deputy assistant administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said at the press conference. Like other standard NASA grant review boards, the estimated budget for this project ranges from a few tens of thousands of dollars to no more than $100,000, Evans said.
While it’s hard to anticipate what the study will reveal, Spergel said “we should be open to the idea that we’re looking at several different phenomena.”
“I think we have to approach all of these issues with humility,” Spergel said. “I’ve spent most of my career as a cosmologist. I can tell you that we don’t know what makes up 95% of the universe. So there are things we don’t understand. I hope that this study will move us forward towards better understanding these phenomena, but ultimately we can conclude that we still do not understand many aspects of them and that we may have a roadmap on how to move forward.
Ross Levitt contributed to this report.