NASA’s task force on UFOs and other strange phenomena held its first public meeting on 31 May.
The team was formed in 2022 to gather all the available data on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs), which include anything spotted in the sky that couldn’t be immediately attributed to an aircraft or known natural occurrence.
The main takeaway from the meeting was that we simply don’t have enough data to identify and explain UAPs. “The current data collection efforts about UAPs are unsystematic and fragmented across various agencies, often using instruments uncalibrated for scientific data collection,” said David Spergel, who leads the group.
Historically, UAPs have rarely been studied with rigour, and all the data has never been gathered in one place before. Now that the group has gathered the data, researchers can begin to take a closer look and try to figure out what UAPs are.
The events the team has managed to look into in detail are traceable back to mundane sources – commercial aircraft, balloons, even radiation from microwave ovens. So far, there is no evidence that any UAP has anything to do with anything extraterrestrial, several of the team members emphasised.
The 16 members of the task force include astronomers, technologists, astrobiologists, physicists and even an astronaut – Scott Kelly, who spent a year on the International Space Station as part of NASA’s landmark twin study.
Less than 5 per cent of the hundreds of reported UAPs remained anomalous and unexplained once they were investigated, largely because we simply don’t have enough information about them. “It’s very possible that with better data they would be reconciled with known phenomena,” said Federica Bianco at the University of Delaware in a press call after the meeting. The group’s full report is expected in late July.