What Are UFOs? NASA’s New Team to Study ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena’

They’re UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) now, not UFOs, and NASA has named 16 people to a new independent study team to start learning more about them.

The team’s work officially started Monday and will extend for about nine months. Its mission is to lay the groundwork for future study by identifying how all of the data out there can be usefully analyzed “to shed light on UAPs.” Its method is to focus “solely on unclassified data.”

There are “unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs),” NASA said in the announcement adding, “There is no evidence UAPs is extra-terrestrial in origin.”

“Exploring the unknown in space and the atmosphere is at the heart of who we are at NASA,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in announcing the team. “Understanding the data we have surrounding unidentified aerial phenomena is critical to helping us draw scientific conclusions about what is happening in our skies.”

The study team’s chair is David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation where he was the founding director of its Flatiron Institute for Computational Astrophysics. Spergel’s interests “range from the search for planets and nearby stars to the shape of the universe, NASA said. “He has measured the age, shape and composition of the universe and played a key role in establishing the standard model of cosmology. A MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Spergel has been cited in publications more than 100,000 times.”

On the team are data experts, an oceanographer, an astronomer, a Federal Aviation Administration accident investigation expert, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of a center on space physics and Scott Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, test pilot, fighter pilot and retired U.S. Navy captain

Read the full team and each member’s current work and interests here.

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