Watch: NASA report says more science and less stigma are needed to understand UFO sightings

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Studying unidentified flying objects will require new scientific techniques, including advanced satellites as well as a shift in how unidentified flying objects are viewed, NASA said Thursday.

The space agency released the findings after a year-long study on UFOs.

In its 33-page report, an independent team commissioned by NASA warned that negative perception surrounding UFOs poses an obstacle to data collection. But officials said NASA’s involvement should help reduce the stigma surrounding what they call UAPs, or unidentified anomalous phenomena.

“We want to shift the conversation about UAPs from excitement to science,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. He promised an open and transparent approach.

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Officials stressed that the committee found no evidence that UAPs have an extraterrestrial origin. But Nelson acknowledged that there are billions of stars in billions of galaxies, and it is possible that there is another Earth.

“If you ask me, do I believe in the existence of life in a universe so vast that it is difficult for me to understand how huge this life is, my personal answer is yes,” Nelson said in a press conference. Its scientists estimate the possibility of life existing on another Earth-like planet at no less than a trillion.

When reporters asked him whether the United States or other governments were hiding aliens or other spaceships, Nelson said: “Show me the proof.”

NASA said it is not actively searching for unexplained sightings. But it operates a fleet of Earth-orbiting spacecraft that can help determine, for example, whether weather is behind a strange event.

The 16-member panel noted that artificial intelligence and machine learning are needed to identify rare events, including UFOs.

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NASA recently appointed a director for UFO research, but has not revealed his identity to protect them from the threats and harassment committee members face during the study.

“This is partly why the name of our new director has not been published because science has to be free. Science needs to go through a real, rigorous, rational process, and you need freedom of thought to be able to do that,” said Dan Evans, NASA’s liaison to the committee.

Scientists, aviation and artificial intelligence experts did not have access to any top-secret files, and retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who is the first American to spend nearly a year in space. Instead, the group relied on unclassified data to try to better understand the unexplained sightings in the sky.

Officials said there were too few high-quality observations to draw any scientific conclusions. Most events can be attributed to planes, drones, balloons or weather conditions, said committee chairman David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation, a scientific research group.

The government refers to unexplained sightings as UAPs versus UFOs. NASA defines them as observations in the sky or elsewhere that cannot be easily identified or scientifically explained.

The study was launched a year ago and cost less than $100,000.

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