Nasa selects UFO research team members for nine-month study

Nasa’s UFO research program will launch on Monday

Jon Kelvey
Friday 21 October 2022 17:46 BST
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The Vehicle Assembly Building at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
The Vehicle Assembly Building at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Nasa)

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Nasa will launch a nine month UFO study program on Monday, and the space agency just announced the 16-person team that will research the mysterious unidentified aerial phenomena.

In June, Nasa first announced the UFO program and noted that the research would focus on unclassified UFO reports and data. They also shared that the independent study group would be chaired by astrophysicist and president of the nonprofit science organization the Simons Foundation, David Spergel.

Joining Spergel will be 15 other team members announced by Nasa on Friday, including former Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly, University of California astrophysicist Shelley Wright, science journalist Nadia Drake, planetary scientist David Grinspoon, and the chief technology officer of Colorado-based space company Maxar, Walter Scott. Other members of the team include scientists, Federal Aviation Administration regulators and space industry experts.

“NASA has brought together some of the world’s leading scientists, data and artificial intelligence practitioners, aerospace safety experts, all with a specific charge, which is to tell us how to apply the full focus of science and data to UAP,” Daniel Evans, the assistant deputy associate administrator for research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.

Evans is responsible for organizing the study, and when announcing the program in June, stressed the important of collecting all available, unclassified data on UFOs in order to assess how future research could try to ascertain the realities behind UFO reports.

“The first step in any investigation is to figure out what data is at hand; that’s all this study is doing,” Dr Evans told reporters in June. “This is just step one. What data are out there that can be brought to bear?”

He added, during the June media conference, that the Nasa UFO study will have a budget between “a few tens of thousands of dollars” and $100,000.

The Nasa UFO program was announced on the heels of the first US congressional hearings on UFOs, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, UAPs, as the Department of Defense calls them, in decades. In May, US intelligence officials briefed congressional leaders on the more than 140 unexplained UAP sightings by members of the military since 2004 and an ongoing Pentagon investigation into the phenomena.

“We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena,” US Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie told lawmakers at the time, “and because UAPs pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we are committed to a focus effort to determine their origins.”

Mr Moultrie and other intelligence officials then briefed lawmakers in a close session involving classified information. The results of the Pentagon’s UAP investigation may also be classified.

Dr Evans has stated that Nasa’s UFO research, by contrast, will utilize unclassified information, and will be released to the public at its conclusion.

“The findings will be released to the public in conjunction with NASA’s principles of transparency, openness, and scientific integrity,” he said in a statement.

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