Does life exist on other planets? For many scientists, it’s plausible. But is such life advanced enough to pilot spacecraft and taunt us in the skies? That’s to be determined—but now that search for intelligent life finally has NASA on board.
Last week, as Smithsonian reports, the space agency announced it had appointed a new director of UAP (unidentified anomalous phenomena) research, Mark McInerney, who previously was an agency liaison with the Defense Department for such matters. The news follows NASA having convened a panel of experts to plot how best to gather and analyze information on UAP.
“This is the first time that NASA has taken concrete action to seriously look into UAP,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said during a press conference.
Most UAP sightings have mundane origins, be it weather balloons, drones, or advanced terrestrial aircraft. A handful do not. While some attribute these to alien visitation, panel experts have called that a “hypothesis of last resort.”
The news was accompanied by a report [PDF] generated by the panel that endorses being solicitous of the general public in reporting UAP, particularly as modern smartphones are able to take clear images and offer location tracking. The panel also posited that NASA’s credibility may help minimize some of the stigma surrounding claims of object sightings.
“The negative perception surrounding the reporting of UAP poses an obstacle to collecting data on these phenomena,” according to the report. “NASA’s very involvement in UAP will play a vital role in reducing stigma associated with UAP reporting, which almost certainly leads to data attrition at present. NASA’s long-standing public trust, which is essential for communicating findings about these phenomena to citizens, is crucial for destigmatizing UAP reporting. The scientific processes used by NASA encourage critical thinking; NASA can model for the public how to best approach the study of UAP, by utilizing transparent reporting, rigorous analysis, and public engagement.”
Such phenomena has gained a lot of attention in recent months. In July, a House oversight subcommittee heard testimony alluding to the existence of extraterrestrial technology. Two corpses purported to be of alien origin were recently displayed in Mexico, though their veracity has been questioned.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Air Force had a questionnaire for civilians to use to report UFO activity and allowed space on the paper to draw the object. A purported lack of useful data led to the project being shuttered in 1970.