NASA has announced plans to create a study team that will work to examine UFOs, or as it refers to them, unidentified aerial phenomena, joining the Pentagon in taking the once laughed at occurrences seriously.
The study team will start work early in the fall, looking at observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena. It is expected to complete its work in under a year.
Through NASA’s team, researchers will focus on identifying available data, finding how to collect future data best, and how NASA can use scientific data to understand UAPs, according to a release from the agency.
The space agency added that the job would be difficult with there only being a limited number of observations of UAPs. Still, there is a need for it as the release said it is of interest for both national security and air safety.
The Defense Department announced last month a plan to begin investigating UFOs and remove the stigma around reporting them among service members.
In its efforts, the Defense Department created an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force that will look into the issue.
Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, shared in the release that NASA is the best fit to understand these UAPs due to the agency’s scientific capabilities.
“NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also,” Zurbuchen said. “We have access to a broad range of observations of Earth from space – and that is the lifeblood of scientific inquiry. We have the tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown. That’s the very definition of what science is. That’s what we do.”
NASA also shared in its release that its team will not be a part of the Department of Defense’s task force. However, it noted that the agency had “coordinated widely across the government regarding how to apply the tools of science to shed light on the nature and origin of unidentified aerial phenomena.”
David Spergel, the president of the Simons Foundation in New York City, will lead the study team for NASA, and he shared they will have to work to get as much information as possible from wherever they can.
“Given the paucity of observations, our first task is simply to gather the most robust set of data that we can,” Spergel said. “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.”