NASA has announced the formation of a study team dedicated to UFOs, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), as they have been rebranded to shed some of their tinfoil hat stigma. But don’t expect some kind of “X-Files” team looking to prove the existence of aliens. Beginning this fall, the study will see researchers identify what UAP data already exists, determine how best to collect UAP data in the future, and develop methods to study the nature of UAPs, both for scientific and defense reasons. aerospace. The team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation in New York City, along with Daniel Evans, assistant deputy administrator for research in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Over the decades, NASA has answered the call to tackle some of the most perplexing mysteries we know of, and this is no different,” Evans said at a news conference. “I want to stress that NASA is in a unique position to address UAPs, because who else can use the power of data and science to observe what is happening in our skies but us? And frankly, that’s why we do what we do.” This is not the first program dedicated to UAP research. Between 1952 and 1969, the United States Air Force (USAF) studied UAPs under Project Blue Book. More recently, in 2017, The New York Times revealed a clandestine Pentagon UAP research program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which ended in 2012 due to lack of funding. That report led to increased public interest in UAPs. Subsequently, the Department of Defense (DoD) formed the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), dedicated to investigating UAP reports, and its successor, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG). Until now, these programs have not explained most UAP sightings. And, notably, they have produced no concrete evidence that UAPs are extraterrestrial, as shown by the Department of Defense’s declassified UAP report from June 2021 and a congressional hearing on UAPs in May 2022. NASA has also been candid about the fact that UAPs are probably not alien spacecraft. “There is no evidence that the UAPs are of extraterrestrial origin,” the agency said in a press release. But that’s not to say aliens are completely out of the question. “Part of our job at NASA that was given to us by Congress is not only to do fundamental research in the skies and so forth, but also to find life elsewhere,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science. “And that’s why we’ve created astrobiology programs across many disciplines in this abstract field that looks at both extinct life on Mars, for example, and patterns of life elsewhere, maybe on Europa or maybe on Enceladus.” . Zurbuchen also acknowledged ongoing NASA research on “tech signatures,” or signs of alien technology potentially created by intelligent life. But in this study, NASA will not seek to develop explanations for UAPs, alien or otherwise. This is more of an intelligence-gathering mission, the results of which will be shared publicly, unlike many Department of Defense findings, which may open the door to more UAP investigations and analysis. “Hopefully we will at least present part of the roadmap of how we might progress in the future,” Spergel said at the news conference. Given NASA’s focus on methodical and scientific UAP research, we think Special Agent Dana Scully would be proud.