NASA is calling for a “government-wide approach” to collect data on UFOs, and is even asking the public to use smartphone apps to help identify mysterious aerial craft.
The report released Thursday morning comes a year after NASA formed a group of experts to examine how information about UFOs, which the government officially calls unidentified anomalous phenomena, is collected by the government and private sector. The study is based on unclassified reports and sightings and is separate from a Pentagon effort to collect information on UFOs.
By using sensors from NASA’s Earth-observing satellites and commercial remote-sensing technology, Washington could create “a robust and systematic data acquisition strategy within the whole-of-government framework,” according to the report.
It also added that “artificial intelligence and machine learning are essential tools for identifying rare occurrences.”
Looping in the public is a “critical aspect of understanding” UFO sightings, the report says. The panel recommended that the space agency look into the viability of creating or acquiring open-source smartphone-based apps that can gather imaging data and other data around the world.
“The panel finds that there is currently no standardized system for making civilian UAP reports, resulting in sparse and incomplete data devoid of curation or vetting protocols,” the report reads.
At a briefing with reporters Thursday following the study’s release, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson reiterated his position that alien life, while not likely, is still possible.
“If you ask me, do I believe there’s life in a universe that is so vast that it’s hard for me to comprehend how big it is, my personal answer is yes,” Nelson said.
Nelson also announced that NASA will hire a director of UAP research who will oversee the space agency’s work on the topic and serve as a communicator between federal agencies on UFOs
During a public meeting in May, members stressed the need for better data on UFOs, including high quality photos and videos of incidents. They didn’t have access to classified information, which has been a point of tension between the government and lawmakers who have called for more transparency.
Reported UFO sightings by military pilots have drawn attention from the public and lawmakers in recent years, sparking accusations that the government is withholding information and hasn’t created an adequate system for reporting cases.
In July, a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on the issue reignited the public interest. While much of the hearing focused on the possible existence of extraterrestrial activity, witnesses and lawmakers emphasized the importance of investigating UFOs as a national security matter. Rather than spaceships operated by aliens, unidentified craft could be drones or other aerial vehicles operated by adversaries.
But the showing of purported alien bodies in front of Mexican lawmakers on Tuesday has hurt the movement to encourage more UFO reporting, according to one of the witnesses from the July House Oversight hearing.
“Unfortunately, yesterday’s demonstration was a huge step backwards for this issue,” Ryan Graves, executive director of the Americans for Safe Aerospace organization that seeks to raise awareness on the issue, tweeted on Wednesday as photographs of the “bodies” went viral.
“I am deeply disappointed by this unsubstantiated stunt,” he added.
During the briefing, Nelson noted that the study was commissioned to “shift the conversation about UAP from sensationalism to science.”