spaceSpace and PhysicsspaceAstronomy

Finally, NASA Launches New Study On UFO Sightings

NASA wants to believe.


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Tic Tac Video
The "tic tac" video, aka FLIR1, shows a UAP sighting in November 2004 filmed by a US Navy jet off the coast of southern California Image credit: US Department of Defense.

NASA has announced it’s funding an independent study seeking to explain UFOS – aka unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) – from a scientific perspective. Kicking off later this year, the study is expected to take about nine months to complete.

It will involve a team of scientific, aeronautical, and data experts led by astrophysicist David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation for advancing scientific research.


“NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also,” Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. “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.”

Best of all, thanks to NASA’s policy on transparency, all of the information divulged in the study will be made public, not limited to a few shady guys in suits and sunglasses.

“Consistent with NASA’s principles of openness, transparency, and scientific integrity, this report will be shared publicly,” added Daniel Evans, the assistant deputy associate administrator for research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “All of NASA’s data is available to the public – we take that obligation seriously – and we make it easily accessible for anyone to see or study.”

Once just the interest of dubious blogs and conspiracy theorists, the subject of UAP sightings has been reignited with a renewed sense of legitimacy following a number of high-profile sightings by the US military that have been made public. 


National security threats are a big reason why US authorities are starting to take UAP sightings seriously. It could well be that some of these UAP reports are unknown and experimental aircraft being tested by a foreign adversary like Russia or China. This is something the new NASA study will closely inspect.

However, it looks like NASA is also keeping an open mind that there may be several different explanations for UAP sightings. 

"Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for many reasons. Frankly, I think there's new science to be discovered," Dr Zurbuchen said at a media teleconference on Thursday. 

“There have been many times when something that looked almost magical turned out to be a new scientific effect," he added.


What about the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life? Well, it's not out of the question at all. Dr Zurbuchen explained that NASA is also fishing for so-called “techno-signatures,” indications of artificial technology in astronomical observations, and they'll be keeping an open mind on the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial technology.

"We [NASA] have demonstrated over the past years, and even decades, our interest in the overall question of finding life elsewhere and finding intelligent life elsewhere using the tools of science,” he explained.  

“If somebody asked me whether there is irrefutable evidence for intelligent life here in one of these phenomena, I would give an answer that's completely acceptable as a scientific: I don't know". 


spaceSpace and PhysicsspaceAstronomy
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