NASA Panel on UFOs Set to Hold First Public Meeting Ahead of Summer Report

© Thomson Reuters 2023

A panel established by NASA last year to investigate “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAPs), commonly referred to as UFOs, was scheduled to convene its inaugural public meeting on Wednesday, in anticipation of an upcoming report. Comprising 16 experts from various disciplines including physics and astrobiology, the panel was formed in June to analyze declassified UFO sightings and data collected from civilian government and commercial sectors.

The primary objective of Wednesday’s four-hour public session was stated by NASA as the final deliberations before the agency’s independent study team publishes a report during the summer. Notably, this marks the first official inquiry of its kind conducted under the auspices of the US space agency, whereas UFO investigations were previously handled exclusively by military and national security officials in a secretive manner.

It is important to differentiate NASA’s study from the newly established investigation at the Pentagon focused on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). The Pentagon initiative involves the examination of documented UAP sightings by military aviators, with analysis conducted by US defense and intelligence authorities. The simultaneous efforts by NASA and the Pentagon, both allowing some level of public scrutiny, represent a significant shift in the government’s approach to the topic of UFOs, which, for decades, was met with dismissals, debunking, and attempts to discredit sightings dating back to the 1940s.

The terminology has also evolved, with the term UFO being replaced by UAP in government discourse. While the former term was often associated with the notion of flying saucers and extraterrestrial beings, the latter acronym, UAP, is now utilized. NASA, however, has been cautious from the outset, stating that there is no evidence to suggest UAPs are of extraterrestrial origin when announcing the formation of the panel last June.

In more recent statements, NASA introduced a potential expansion of the UAP acronym, referring to it as “unidentified anomalous phenomena.” This implies that the scope of sightings may extend beyond airborne phenomena to encompass other unidentified events. Nonetheless, according to NASA’s announcement of the meeting, the agency defines UAPs as observations of skyborne events that cannot be identified as conventional aircraft or known natural phenomena based on a scientific perspective.

US defense officials have acknowledged that the Pentagon’s recent efforts to investigate UAP sightings have generated numerous new reports, many of which remain unexplained and under examination. While the head of the Pentagon’s newly formed All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) has not ruled out the existence of intelligent alien life, they have emphasized that no sighting has yet provided evidence of extraterrestrial origins.

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