A year-long study commissioned by NASA into unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) – also known as UFOs – has failed to find evidence of their extraterrestrial origin.
“We don’t know what these UAPs are but we’re going to try to find out,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a press briefing Thursday.
The report, commissioned in June last year and carried out by a panel of 16 independent experts, concluded that NASA is able to use existing technology to better understand and investigate UAP and that it can reduce stigma long associated with reporting these observations.
“Most UAP observations result in very limited data,” Nelson said. The report notes that these sightings are often ultimately identified as balloons, planes or known natural phenomena.
“We want private pilots, commercial pilots and military pilots to feel that if they see something, they should report it,” said Nicola Fox, NASA associate administrator.
To help lead its efforts, NASA officials announced the appointment of its first UAP research director, although the agency declined to share his name.
Daniel Evans, a senior official in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, spoke of the harassment some panel members suffered while conducting the study for keeping the director’s name secret.
“Some of them have actually posed real threats,” he said. “Science must be free. Science must follow a real and rational process, and to do this requires freedom of thought.
Nelson said officials are keeping an open mind about what UAPs are, adding that he personally believes there is life beyond our solar system. He, however, expressed doubts that these UAPs are extraterrestrial, due to the distance they would have to travel to reach our planet.
“It would have to be a very advanced civilization,” said Nelson, who traveled to space while serving as a Florida congressman in 1986. “The distances, you know: light years, hundreds light years, billions of light years. But whatever we find, we’ll tell you.