NASA has chosen 16 individuals that will take part in a nine-month study focused on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) sightings. A UAP is an aerial event unable to be classified as an aircraft or any form of natural phenomenon. The project is expected to cost less than $100,000.
Specifically, unclassified information from civilian and commercial entities will be used for researchers to analyze. This is the US space agency's first step towards being able to accurately identify unknown sightings in the skies above us. Hopefully, NASA will be able to create a roadmap for more streamlined UAP data analysis in the future.
Besides national security interests, NASA aims at keeping aircraft in space while in the air, especially with pilots reportedly seeing UFOs. Besides university astrophysicists exploring the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the US government has slowly opened up information to the public. The Pentagon declassified some UAP videos and the US government released a UFO report.
As noted by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters:
"Exploring the unknown in space and the atmosphere is at the heart of who we are at NASA. Understanding the data we have surrounding unidentified aerial phenomena is critical to helping us draw scientific conclusions about what is happening in our skies. Data is the language of scientists and makes the unexplainable, explainable."
Current reporting protocols from air traffic management (ATM) data and from civilian airspace are just a couple of topics they hope be able to discuss in a serious manner.
NASA is using a mix of scientists, data and artificial intelligence veterans, and aerospace safety experts as part of the research team. Daniel Evans, assistant deputy associate administrator for research with the NASA Science Mission Directorate will be responsible for overseeing the study. The full list of study participants is available here.
The study will begin on Monday, October 24. A publicly released report should be available sometime in mid-2023.