(WFLA) — NASA will soon be joining the investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena, more commonly referred to as UFOs.
The agency announced a new independent study on Thursday to examine “observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena.” According to a release from NASA, the study will focus on the science of UAPs — identifying and collecting data to better understand UAPs.
UFOs have attracted wide interest from enthusiasts who believe they could be linked to aliens or another world, but NASA said “there is no evidence UAPs are extra-terrestrial in origin” and the “limited number of observations” make it hard to draw any “scientific conclusions.”
“NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also. We have access to a broad range of observations of Earth from space – and that is the lifeblood of scientific inquiry,” NASA Headquarters Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen said. “We have the tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown. That’s the very definition of what science is. That’s what we do.”
The agency said the study to identify UAPs is of interest to national security and air safety. In its release, NASA said “establishing which events are natural provides a key first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena.”
NASA’s announcement comes less than a month after Congress held its first hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years. A House subcommittee heard from United State defense intelligence officials in May after a report documented more than 140 UAPs reported by U.S. military pilots since 2004. Those two intelligence officials are part of a Pentagon task force investigating UAPs.
The new study commissioned by NASA is not part of the task force, or any group put together by the Department of Defense, the agency said.
“NASA has, however, coordinated widely across the government regarding how to apply the tools of science to shed light on the nature and origin of unidentified aerial phenomena,” the agency noted.
According to NASA, the new UAPs study will start early this fall and is expected to take about nine months. The team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel and will “secure the counsel of experts in the scientific, aeronautics, and data analytics communities.”