Cape Canaveral, Florida (AP) – NASA has launched a study of unidentified flying objects as part of a new push toward high-risk, high-impact science.
The space agency announced Thursday that it is forming an independent team to find out how much information is available to the public on the issue and how much is needed to make sense of the unexplained observations.. Experts will also consider how best to use all this information in the future.
The chief of NASA’s science mission, Thomas Zurbuchen, acknowledged that the traditional scientific community might see NASA as a “sell-out” by venturing into the controversial topic, but he strongly disagrees with it.
“We don’t avoid stigmatization risks,” Zurbuchen said during a National Academy of Sciences webcast. “Our strong belief is that the biggest challenge for these phenomena is that they are a data-poor field.”
NASA considers this the first step in trying to explain mysterious sightings in the sky known as UAPs, or unknown weather phenomena.
The study will begin this fall and run for nine months, at a cost of no more than $100,000. It will be completely open, with no confidential military data used.
NASA said the team will be led by astrophysicist David Spiergel, president of the Simmons Foundation for the Advancement of Scientific Research. At a press conference, Spergel said the only preconceived notion that goes into the study is that UAPs likely have multiple explanations.
“We have to approach all these questions with a sense of humility,” said Spergel. “I’ve spent most of my career as a cosmologist. I can tell you that we don’t know what makes up 95% of the universe. So there are things we don’t understand.”
The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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