NASA Holds Public Meeting on UFO Investigation

Scientists are becoming online targets as well, official says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2023 4:49 PM CDT
NASA Holds Public Meeting on UFO Investigation
This photo issued by the National Archives in Britain shows a doughnut-shaped phenomenon photographed by a retired RAF officer in 2004 and reported as a possible UFO.   (AP Photo/The National Archives/PA Wire)

In its first public meeting to gather information about UFOs, a NASA panel of experts said the search for answers is hampered by the stigma connected with reporting a sighting, which contributes to the lack of high-quality data available. The sightings are underreported, the experts suggested, despite high public interest in unidentified anomalous phenomena, as the federal government now calls UFOs. In another unhelpful phenomenon familiar to scientists, Nicola Fox of NASA said those studying UAPs—including the 16 members of the panel—are subjected to "disheartening" online abuse, the BBC reports.

"Harassment only leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field, significantly hindering the scientific progress and discouraging others to study this important subject matter," Fox said, while getting in the way of "the public’s right to knowledge." The head of the Defense Department's All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office said it has reports of about 800 sightings, up about 150 from when he appeared at congressional hearing in April. Most have been spotted at altitudes where aircraft usually fly, he said. The panel, which was set up last June, relied on data to assess data from civilian government and commercial sectors in its work, per NBC News.

"If I were to summarize in one line what I feel we’ve learned, it’s we need high-quality data," said David Spergel, the chairman. Members said various scientific fields could help improve the data analysis, possibly by using artificial intelligence and machine learning to sift through NASA's store of information. The NASA science-heavy effort is a break from the military investigations of the past and is not connected to the Pentagon's ongoing investigation. The NASA group said it will publish its findings in July.

At the meeting, NASA experts said 2% to 5% of reported sightings are "possibly really anomalous," though many others could be explained. Retired astronaut and naval aviator Scott Kelly spoke about a flight in which his co-pilot was convinced he had seen a UFO. "We turned around, we went to look at it, it turns out it was Bart Simpson—a balloon," Kelly said. (Read more UFOs stories.)

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