What’s Next for NASA’s UFO Research? Outside Observers Weigh In

Starlink satellite train in night sky
A video captured by Dutch satellite-watcher Marco Langbroek shows Starlink satellites moving across the sky. (Marco Langbroek via X / Twitter)

BOULDER, Colo. — NASA says it’s going to play a bigger role in studying what’s behind unidentified anomalous phenomena, the newfangled name for what we used to call UFOs. But exactly how should NASA step into that role? The astrophysicist who helped get the ball rolling last year as NASA’s associate administrator for science is suggesting a quick and easy way to get started.

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Following Up on Report, NASA Takes On a Bigger Role in UFO Research

The Milky Way spreads out in the sky over the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, which experts say could play a role in the search for unidentified anomalous phenomena in the solar system. (Credit: Bruno C. Quint via Rubin Observatory)

In response to a new report from an independent panel, NASA says it has appointed a director in charge of research into UFOs — now known as unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAPs — and will work with other agencies to widen the net for collecting UAP data.

“This is the first time that NASA has taken concrete action to seriously look into UAP,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said today during a news briefing at NASA’s headquarters in Washington.

NASA initially kept the name of its UAP research director under wraps, but later in the day, the agency identified him as Mark McInerney, who has previously served as NASA’s liaison to the Department of Defense on the UAP issue.

Nelson downplayed the idea that aliens were behind any of the anomalous phenomena recorded to date, but he pledged to keep an open mind.

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Pentagon Unveils New Website for Reporting (and Learning About) UFOs

Freeze frame of bright circular-looking object in Navy fighter jet video
An anomalous object shows up on video captured by a Navy fighter jet in 2021. (Credit: AARO / DoD)

The Pentagon has opened up a new portal on the internet for professionals to submit reports about UFOs — now officially known as unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAPs — and for the rest of us to find out about the reports that have been released.

AARO.mil, the website for the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, is still a work in progress. For example, a promised online form for contacting the AARO is labeled as “Coming Soon.” But the version unveiled today offers eight videos showing UAPs, plus archives for congressional reports and briefings, press releases and links to other resources.

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Want to Find UFOs? That's a Job for Machine Learning

UFO encounter video
Cockpit video shows an anomalous aerial encounter in 2015. Credit: U.S Navy Video

In 2017, humanity got its first glimpse of an interstellar object (ISO), known as 1I/’Oumuamua, which buzzed our planet on its way out of the Solar System. Speculation abound as to what this object could be because, based on the limited data collected, it was clear that it was like nothing astronomers had ever seen. A controversial suggestion was that it might have been an extraterrestrial probe (or a piece of a derelict spacecraft) passing through our system. Public fascination with the possibility of “alien visitors” was also bolstered in 2021 with the release of the UFO Report by the ODNI.

This move effectively made the study of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) a scientific pursuit rather than a clandestine affair overseen by government agencies. With one eye on the skies and the other on orbital objects, scientists are proposing how recent advances in computing, AI, and instrumentation can be used to assist in the detection of possible “visitors.” This includes a recent study by a team from the University of Strathclyde that proposes how hyperspectral imaging paired with machine learning could lead to an advanced data pipeline for characterizing UAP.

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Witnesses Play Up the Alien Angle at Congressional UFO Hearing

Tic Tac object on infrared sensor image
Infrared imagery captured by a Navy fighter jet in 2004 shows an anomalous "Tic Tac" object, highlighted by a red circle. (U.S. Navy Video)

Three former insiders who have played a role in dealing with UFOs — or as they’ve now come to be known, unidentified anomalous phenomena — say the U.S. military knows more than what it’s been telling lawmakers about encounters with potentially alien technology.

During a House subcommittee hearing held today, one of the witnesses said he was told that non-human remains have been recovered from UAP incidents.

“As I’ve stated publicly already … biologics came with some of these recoveries,” David Grusch, a former intelligence officer who took on whistleblower status due to his claims, said in response to a question from Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C.

“Were they, I guess, human or non-human biologics?” Mace asked.

“Non-human,” Grusch replied. “And that was the assessment of people with direct knowledge on the program I talked to, that are currently still on the program.”

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UFO Panelists Say NASA Needs Better Data — and Help From AI

U.S. Navy video of an anomalous object, known as the GOFAST UFO (highlighted by a red box), includes data about the circumstances of the detection. Experts would like to see a similar level of detail for NASA's information about unidentified anomalous phenomena. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

A panel of independent experts took a first-ever look at what NASA could bring to the study of UFO sightings — now known as unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAPs — and said the space agency will have to up its game.

The 16-member panel’s chair, David Spergel, said he and his colleagues were “struck by the limited nature of the data.”

“Many events had insufficient data,” said Spergel, an astrophysicist who is the president of the Simons Foundation. “In order to get a better understanding, we will need to have high-quality data — data where we understand its provenance, data from multiple sensors.”

During today’s public hearing, panelists said NASA could contribute to the UAP debate by setting standards for sighting data, creating a crowdsourcing platform for sightings, and reducing the stigma that has discouraged people from reporting and studying anomalous sightings. Some of that stigma was experienced by the panelists themselves.

“It’s disheartening to note that several of them have been subjected to online abuse due to their decision to participate on this panel,” said Daniel Evans, NASA’s assistant deputy associate administrator for research, who served as the space agency’s liaison to the panel. “A NASA security team is actively addressing this issue.”

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UFO Office Fails to Find Anything That Defies the Laws of Physics

UFO encounter video
Cockpit video shows an anomalous aerial encounter in 2015. Credit: U.S Navy Video

The head of the Pentagon office that is reviewing reported unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP – commonly known as UFOs, unidentified flying objects) told the US Congress this week that his office is now reviewing more than 650 incidents, but so far, none exhibited anything that was evidence of extraterrestrial activity or defied the known laws of physics.

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UFO Update Says Pentagon’s Case Count Is Rising Rapidly

UFO encounter video
Cockpit video shows an anomalous aerial encounter in 2015. Credit: U.S Navy Video

A new report to Congress says the Pentagon’s task force on UFOs — now known as unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs — has processed more reports in the past couple of years than it did in the previous 17 years. But that doesn’t mean we’re in the midst an alien invasion.

The unclassified report was issued this week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, in collaboration with the Department of Defense’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO. The office was created by congressional mandate, and this week’s report serves as an update to a preliminary assessment of the Pentagon’s UAP reports issued in 2021.

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NASA Announces the Team who'll be Studying UFO Data. It's a Pretty Impressive List

UFO encounter video
Cockpit video shows an anomalous aerial encounter in 2015. Credit: U.S Navy Video

In June, NASA announced that it had commissioned an independent study team to investigate unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) from a scientific perspective. Last week, NASA announced the members of the independent team that will study observed events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or natural phenomena. These sixteen individuals, a collection of scientists and researchers from premier institutions across the U.S., will analyze all possible data sources that could help NASA and other agencies learn more about this phenomenon.

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Alien Artifacts Could Be Hidden Across the Solar System. Here’s how we Could Search for Them.

Galileo Project members (from left: Carson Ezell, Ezra Kelderman, Abby White, Alex and Lily Delacroix) with the audio tower (left), radar spectrum tower (middle) and radar imaging tower (right) behind them on the roof of the Harvard College Observatory.
Galileo Project members (from left: Carson Ezell, Ezra Kelderman, Abby White, Alex and Lily Delacroix) with the audio tower (left), radar spectrum tower (middle) and radar imaging tower (right) behind them on the roof of the Harvard College Observatory. Image credit: The Galileo Project

Do aliens exist? Almost certainly. The universe is vast and ancient, and our corner of it is not particularly special. If life emerged here, it probably did elsewhere. Keep in mind this is a super broad assumption. A single instance of fossilized archaebacteria-like organisms five superclusters away would be all it takes to say, “Yes, there are aliens!” …if we could find them somehow.

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