Six revelations from NASA’s public UFO meeting 

The first-ever public meeting of NASA‘s ‘independent study group’ on UFOs dropped major revelations about unexplained objects tracked ‘all over the world.’ 

It also included serious calls for more resources to examine UFOs, now more technically described as Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) to better include the range of sightings and cases under study.

Comprised of 16 experts ranging from physicists to astronauts, NASA’s study group had a lot to say during their four-hour meeting, which covered everything from the search for alien artifacts to the problem of online harassment by UFO trolls.

The study group, the first of its kind from the US space agency, has been conducting its work since last June and is expected to release its final recommendations to NASA in late July.

Here are the six main takeaways from yesterday’s meeting.

NASA’s UFO study group has combed through data on unexplained phenomena in an effort to provide advice to the US space agency on how it can best contribute to UAP investigations. Pictured is a UAP image taken by US Navy aviators in 2015 using infrared targeting cameras

NASA's study group of 16 experts ranging from physicists to astronauts was formed last June to examine unclassified UFO sightings from civilian, government and commercial sectors

NASA’s study group of 16 experts ranging from physicists to astronauts was formed last June to examine unclassified UFO sightings from civilian, government and commercial sectors

Serious scientists want to search for alien tech in our solar system

‘Within the scientific community, there is a widespread, but by no means universal belief that there are extraterrestrial civilizations,’ astrobiologist David Grinspoon told his fellow UAP task force members.

‘The same rationale which supports the idea that ET civilizations may exist and may be detectable,’ Grinspoon said, ‘also supports the idea that finding extraterrestrial artifacts in our own solar system is at least plausible.’

Grinspoon, who has served as an advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy in the past, then recommended that the space agency take the lead trying to find these alien artifacts, if they’re out there. 

‘Most of the solar system has not been searched for artifacts and anomalies,’ he pointed out, noting: ‘NASA is the lead agency for solar system exploration.’ 

‘These modest data analysis efforts could potentially be applied to existing and planned planetary missions,’ Grinspoon said.

This was not the first time Grinspoon has made the case for hunting for alien ‘technosignatures’ within our solar system or even our own planet, calling dismissive attitudes toward the idea ‘intellectually lazy.’ 

‘Our infant civilization has already launched five spacecraft that will wander the galaxy, and we’re trying to figure out how to send tiny spacecraft to nearby exoplanets,’ Grinspoon wrote earlier this year in Sky & Telescope

‘Imagine what an aged ET civilization might have achieved and what machines might have entered our solar system over billions of years.’ 

‘If NASA applies the same rigorous methodology toward UAPs that it applies to the study of possible life elsewhere, then we stand to learn something new and interesting.’

Percentage of unresolved UAP cases remains consistent with the past

The director of the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), physicist Sean Kirkpatrick told NASA’s UAP group that the number of military UAP sightings his group would classify as ‘possibly really anomalous’ come to somewhere between two to five percent of AARO’s total database. 

That percentage is remarkably consistent with past rates for unresolved UFO and UAP cases, including those by the Pentagon’s Cold War-era UFO bureau, Project Blue Book, which ran to about four and 5.9 percent in the 1950s.

Astronomers polled in 1977 by Stanford astrophysics professor Peter Sturrock, 2,611 members of the American Astronomical Society, resulted in a similar statistic: 62 astronomers out of 1,356 respondents, or 4.6 percent reported witnessing or recording inexplicable aerial phenomena.

Some academic scientists, including SUNY Albany physicist Kevin Knuth, have suggested that this consistency might suggest that the phenomena is more likely to be real and not just random noise.

AARO director Sean Kirkpatrick presented fresh statistics on the Pentagon's UAP findings to the NASA panel, adding to data he first reported to the Senate's Armed Services Committee

AARO director Sean Kirkpatrick presented fresh statistics on the Pentagon’s UAP findings to the NASA panel, adding to data he first reported to the Senate’s Armed Services Committee

The US military is tracking strange ‘metallic orbs’ spotted ‘all over the world’ 

Kirkpatrick replayed one example of an unsolved UAP case: video by a US military MQ-9 Reaper drone recorded last year in the Mid East and depicting a bizarre flying metallic orb.

‘This is a typical example of the thing that we see most of,’ Kirkpatrick told NASA’s UAP panel. ‘We see these all over the world.’

‘And we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers,’ Kirkpatrick added. ‘This one in particular, however, I would point out, demonstrated no enigmatic technical capabilities and was no threat to airborne safety.

‘Being able to come to some conclusion is going to take time,’ he said, ‘until we can get better resolved data on similar objects that we can then do a larger analysis on.’

Kirkpatrick also told the panel that AARO is receiving, on average, about 50 to 100 reports of UAPs per month — a figure which means that roughly one truly weird, inexplicable case is arriving on their desks each week. 

He also noted that there were occasional spikes in sightings, coinciding with events like Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite launches or the frenzy over China’s spy balloon this past February. 

Kirkpatrick also mentioned procedural reasons for these spikes in UAP cases, as with a new influx of data via AARO’s recent coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which provided 100 or so new UAP reports to his office.

Such coordination was the order of the day during the meeting. ‘NASA embeds,’ scientists who have been cleared for work on classified UAP cases, are also working closely with the Pentagon’s official UFO investigators on a few top secret UFO cases, Kirkpatrick said. 

While playing a 2022 military UFO video taken by an MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Mid East, AARO director Kirkpatrick told the NASA panel that 'we see these ['metallic orbs'] all over the world, and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers'

While playing a 2022 military UFO video taken by an MQ-9 Reaper drone in the Mid East, AARO director Kirkpatrick told the NASA panel that ‘we see these [‘metallic orbs’] all over the world, and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers’

AARO director Kirkpatrick also presented one brand new, but resolved UAP case in which a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft misidentified three commercial aircraft. The commercial planes were moving on an established flight corridor, but looked like a closer and weirder trio of UAP

AARO director Kirkpatrick also presented one brand new, but resolved UAP case in which a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft misidentified three commercial aircraft. The commercial planes were moving on an established flight corridor, but looked like a closer and weirder trio of UAP 

The infamous ‘GOFAST’ UAP wasn’t going fast at all 

As one of the pilots shouts in the infrared targeting video of the mysterious ‘GOFAST’ UFO, ‘Whoa! Got it!’ 

One of NASA’s panel members, Josh Semeter, an engineering professor at Boston University’s center for space physics, presented a detailed analysis of a fighter jet’s trajectory relative to the ‘GOFAST’ UAP.

It turns out that the mystery object was actually cruising at about 40 mph.

‘So, that’s a velocity that is consistent with wind speeds at 13,000 feet,’ Semeter said, pointing out that this was the calculated altitude for the GOFAST UAP. 

Making such a compelling case that the GOFAST was likely an object sailing in a strong breeze was possible, he noted, because of the infrared video’s technical readout and interface. 

‘Fortunately the information needed to determine the altitude and velocity of this object is contained on the display,’ Semeter explained. 

NASA UAP panelist Josh Semeter, an engineering professor at Boston University's center for space physics, used technical details on the military infrared video's user interface to calculate the altitude and the speed of the infamous 'GOFAST' UFO. The true speed was only 40 mph

NASA UAP panelist Josh Semeter, an engineering professor at Boston University’s center for space physics, used technical details on the military infrared video’s user interface to calculate the altitude and the speed of the infamous ‘GOFAST’ UFO. The true speed was only 40 mph 

Online harassment has plagued NASA’s UAP panel

Multiple members of the team, over the course of NASA’s four-hour public meeting, referenced abuse from UFO trolls, cranky skeptics and others, both online and within their own institutions.

NASA's head of science, Nicky Fox, said it does 'not tolerate abuse' from UFO trolls online

NASA’s head of science, Nicky Fox, said it does ‘not tolerate abuse’ from UFO trolls online

‘It is really disheartening to hear of the harassment that our panelists have faced online all because they’re studying this topic,’ said Nicky Fox, the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. 

‘NASA stands behind our panelists and we do not tolerate abuse,’ she added. 

‘Harassment only leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field, significantly hindering scientific progress and discouraging others to study this important subject matter.’ 

Daniel Evans, also with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, assured the panel that ‘NASA’s security team is actively addressing this issue.’

The issue appears to be a persistent feature of the social stigma surrounding UFOs, with Kirkpatrick mentioning that he and members of his AARO team at the Pentagon have had similar experiences.

‘My team and I have also been subjected to lots of harassment,’ Kirkpatrick said, ‘especially coming out of my last hearing [to the Senate’s Armed Services Committee] because people don’t understand the scientific method.’

‘People want answers now,’ Kirkpatrick noted, explaining that AARO has faced heated and counterproductive pressure from the public for fast answers on UAP.

NASA’s panel wants the tools to study UAP seriously

Former senior NASA official Mike Gold, now an executive vice president at the private space firm Redwire, voiced his opinion that NASA should impanel a permanent office for the study of UAP, and his colleagues sounded no less serious.

A recurring theme of the public meeting was the need for higher quality data, not just from UAP cases, but more data from the many more mundane things that could be mistaken for truly unusual phenomena.

Panel member and astronomer Federica Bianco, pointed out that UAP researchers will need ‘a thorough and deep understanding of what is normal, to tease out what is unusual.’

The study group’s chair, astrophysicist David Spergel, emphasized repeatedly the need for better data collection equipment and methods, if NASA or any other research organization is to tackle the UAP issue successfully.  

‘If I were to summarize in one month what we’ve learned, we need high-quality data,’ said Spergel, who devoted much of his professional life to teasing meaning out of faint signals from deep out in the universe. 

‘The lesson of my career is you want to address important questions with high-quality data and well-calibrated instruments.’

Solidad La Madrid

Solidad has been a reporter since 2017. She writes stories about climate change, environment, COVID-19 pandemic and human rights.

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