NASA has appointed a director of research to study “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (U.A.P.), commonly known as unidentified flying objects (U.F.O.s). The creation of this role comes in response to the recommendations made by an independent study team commissioned by the agency. The team’s report suggests that NASA should play a larger role in collecting and studying information about U.A.P.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson emphasized the agency’s commitment to transparency and scientific rigor during a news conference. He drew parallels between the study of U.A.P. and NASA’s ongoing exploration of life on other planets, highlighting the agency’s Perseverance rover on Mars and the James Webb Space Telescope.
The identity of the director of U.A.P. research was initially kept confidential, but it was later revealed to be Mark McInerney. McInerney has previously served as NASA’s liaison with the Defense Department on U.A.P. issues, as well as in various positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Hurricane Center.
NASA’s decision to initially withhold the director’s name was influenced by the harassment experienced by members of the independent study panel during the report’s development. Some panel members faced threats, leading NASA to prioritize the safety and freedom of its researchers.
The report recommends that NASA leverage its Earth-observing instruments to collect environmental data alongside U.A.P. reports. Additionally, the agency should encourage public engagement by allowing individuals to submit observations through a smartphone app. The panel also advises utilizing advanced computer algorithms, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to analyze U.A.P. reports for patterns and underlying phenomena.
By focusing on data collection, using technology, and involving the public, NASA aims to shift the conversation around U.A.P. from conjecture and conspiracy theories to science and rationality.
Sources: New York Times