Washington — An independent group of scientists and experts brought together by NASA to studyknown as UAPs or UFOs, is holding its first and only public meeting on Wednesday, hearing from government officials about how the space agency can help efforts to understand the mysterious objects.
NASA defines UAP as “observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or scientifically known natural phenomena”. Hundreds of military and commercial pilots have reported observing unusual objects moving at high speed with seemingly no means of propulsion, baffling scientists and military analysts who have struggled to explain their origins.
David Spergel, astrophysicist and chairman of the group, opened the meeting by stressing the need for more high-quality data on NAPs from the government and commercial sector. The 16-member study group was tasked with giving NASA “guidance to provide a roadmap for how it can contribute in this area,” not explaining past events, Spergel noted. The group is expected to release a report detailing the findings of its nine-month investigation later this summer.
“Current UAP data collection efforts are unsystematic and fragmented among various agencies, often using uncalibrated instruments for scientific data collection,” Spergel said. “To better understand UAP, focused data collection, thorough data curation, and robust analyzes are needed. Such an approach will help discern unexplained UAP sightings, but even then there is no guarantee that all observations will be explained.”
The issue of UAPs has drawn more military and lawmaker attention in recent years with the release of numerous videos of military airmen encounters with the objects. Last year, the Department of Defense established the All Areas Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) in coordination with the intelligence community to lead government investigations into UAPs.
Sean Kirkpatrick, the head of the AARO, said at Wednesday’s meeting that the majority of reports reviewed by the task force had mundane explanations. Many of those cases remain technically “unsolved” due to a lack of dating data, Kirkpatrick said, echoing Spergel’s comments that better data collection is needed to understand the events.
Kirkpatrick said the AARO received about 800 reports in total, up from about 650 when he testified before Congress last month. He said the number of cases that include signals that could be “abnormal” represent between 2% and 5% of cases. Objects are generally between 1 and 4 meters long and are observed between 10,000 and 30,000 feet.
The AARO chief outlined steps NASA could take to help better understand UAPs, including standardizing how reports from the crowd are collected, exploring the use of ground-based instruments to monitor objects and assessing whether satellites could be used for detection.
The NASA study group wasto “lay the groundwork for future study of the nature of UAPs for NASA and other organizations,” the agency said at the time. The team’s investigation relies solely on unclassified government and private sector documents, unlike AARO’s work, which includes reviewing highly classified documents.
In its announcement of Wednesday’s meeting, NASA said that “[o]explaining how to assess and study UAP using data, technology, and scientific tools is a NASA priority” and that the study is not “a review or evaluation of unidentifiable past observations”. report, the agency said, “will inform NASA of possible data that may be collected in the future to shed light on the nature and origin of UAP.”
Wednesday’s meeting was scheduled to last four hours and scientists will answer questions from the media at a press conference after the session.
How to watch the NASA UAP reunion
What: NASA UAP Study Group Holds Public Meeting
Date: Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Time: 10:30 a.m. ET
Online stream: Live on CBS News in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.