American authorities have been examining hundreds of reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) collected over several decades, but only a small fraction of these sightings remain unexplained, according to a panel of researchers. The panel, established by NASA last year to investigate unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), held its first public meeting on Wednesday to discuss their work. While many sightings can be attributed to known phenomena or misinterpretations, a small percentage of reports still defy scientific explanation.
Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) within the US Defense Department, revealed that they receive around 50 to 100 new reports each month. However, only approximately 2% to 5% of these reports are deemed "possibly really anomalous" based on their analysis. The panel aims to analyze and understand these unusual sightings that cannot be identified as conventional aircraft or known natural phenomena.
During the meeting, a video captured by a naval aircraft over the western US was shown, displaying a series of dots moving across the night sky. The military plane attempted to intercept the object, which was eventually identified as a commercial aircraft en route to a major airport. While some sightings like this can be easily explained, there are others that continue to remain mysterious.
In a Pentagon report released in 2021, it was revealed that out of 144 sightings by military pilots since 2004, all but one remained unexplained. Officials have not ruled out the possibility that these objects could be of extraterrestrial origin. However, privacy concerns present limitations to NASA's investigations in this field. While they have access to advanced surveillance capabilities, directing these resources towards specific areas can raise privacy concerns and public objections.
Interpreting UAP-related data is often challenging, and it can be easily distorted or misinterpreted. David Spergel, chair of NASA's UAP team, shared an example of radio wave signals detected in Australia that initially baffled researchers. It was later discovered that the signals were actually coming from a microwave used by the researchers to heat their lunches. Such instances highlight the complexities involved in analyzing and interpreting UAP data.
Stigma surrounding UFO sightings has hindered the collection of high-quality data, with commercial pilots being reluctant to report their observations due to the associated stigma. The panel aims to address this issue and remove the stigma surrounding UAP research, emphasizing the need for credible data to address important questions in this field.
Furthermore, scientists and researchers working in this area have faced online harassment, impeding the scientific process and discouraging others from studying the subject. NASA's science chief, Nicola Fox, highlighted the detrimental impact of such harassment and called for a more supportive and open environment for UAP research.
This public meeting and NASA's changed approach are significant, as the agency has historically debunked UFO sightings. The commitment to transparency and engaging with the public is demonstrated by their live televised discussion. The panel's work will continue to shed light on these mysterious sightings and contribute to a better understanding of unidentified aerial phenomena.