A yearlong study commissioned by NASA on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) ― also known as UFOs ― failed to find evidence that they are extraterrestrial in origin.
“We don’t know what these UAP are but we’re going to try to find out,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at a press briefing Thursday.
The report, commissioned in June of last year and conducted by a panel of 16 independent experts, concluded that NASA is capable of using existing technology to better understand and investigate UAP and that it can reduce the stigma long associated with reporting these sightings.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson speaks during a media briefing Thursday on UAP at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“Most UAP sightings result in very limited data,” Nelson said. The report noted that these sightings are often ultimately identified as balloons, aircraft or known natural phenomena.
“We want … private pilots, commercial pilots, military pilots, to feel that if they see something they need to report it,” said Nicola Fox, associate NASA administrator.
To help spearhead its efforts, NASA officials announced the appointment of its first director of UAP research, though the agency declined to share his name.
Daniel Evans, a senior official in NASA’s science mission directorate, cited harassment that some of the panel members experienced while conducting the study for keeping the director’s name a secret.
“Some of them actually rose to actual threats,” he said. “Science needs to be free. Science needs to undergo a real, rational process, and you need the freedom of thought to do that.”
Nelson said officials are keeping an open mind about what UAP are, adding that he personally believes there’s life beyond our solar system. He expressed doubt that these UAP are extraterrestrial, however, 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 a Florida congressman in 1986. “The distances, you know: light years, hundreds of light years, billions of light years. But whatever we find we’re going to tell you.”