NASA Has a New UFO Honcho

Panel recommends NASA boost data collection, get public involved in investigation of UAPs
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2023 11:52 AM CDT
App to Log UFO Sightings Could Be Coming
Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, speaks about the Artemis II mission in Houston, on Monday, April 3, 2023.   (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

NASA has appointed a new director to lead its investigation of UFOs, one that will now take a more science-based approach, according to the space agency. The appointment comes in response to recommendations laid out by a 16-member independent panel tasked with exploring how NASA could better investigate UFOs, also called UAPs or "unidentified anomalous phenomena." The 33-page report released Thursday encourages NASA to expand its role in the field. "This is the first time that NASA has taken concrete action to seriously look into UAP," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told reporters Thursday, per the New York Times, adding "NASA will do this transparently." Yet the agency initially refused to name its new director of UAP research.

"We will not give his name out," said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA's science mission directorate, per the Times. Seven hours later, an updated NASA press release did in fact name him as Mark McInerney, who formerly served as NASA's liaison with the Defense Department in regards to UAPs. The agency said it had been hesitant to name him after panel members—including university professors, an astronaut, and a journalist—suffered harassment and threats. In a post on X, Fox urged people to "treat [McInerney] with respect in this pivotal role to help us better scientifically understand UAP." The report finds that "to understand UAP, a rigorous, evidence-based, data-driven scientific framework is essential," per CNN. After all, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

"Despite numerous accounts and visuals, the absence of consistent, detailed, and curated observations means we do not presently have the body of data needed to make definitive, scientific conclusions about UAP," the report adds, per Al Jazeera. It recommends NASA collect environmental data coinciding with UAP reports and encourage the public to get involved, possibly through use of an app. Panel chair David Spergel, an astrophysicist, observed the "wealth of data that a cellphone takes," including sharp images, sounds, and precise locations, per the Times. "If you see something you don't understand, collect data," he said. "We aggregate the data and we learn from it." Nelson promised transparency in the process. "We're in a world of discovery" and "whatever we find, we're going to tell you," he said. (More UFOs stories.)

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