US space agency NASA holds its first-ever public meeting Wednesday to talk everything UFOs and examine unclassified records pertaining to so-called documented sightings.
NASA officials, who have recently updated the term UFO as "unidentified aerial phenomena" or "UAP," say they planned the four-hour live-streamed public session to "hold final deliberations before the agency's independent study team publishes a report this summer."
The study, which includes UFO-related data collected from civilian government and commercial sectors, was conducted by a 16-member panel of experts in the field, ranging from physics to astrobiology.
Even though it’s the first-ever study of its kind for NASA and the federal government, UFO hobbyists and conspiracy theorists shouldn’t get too excited.
The biggest take-away from the meeting is that better scientific data is needed for a truly comprehensive and accurate study.
"If I were to summarize in one line what I feel we've learned, it's that we need high-quality data," said panel chair David Spergel in his opening remarks.
"The current data collection efforts about UAPs are unsystematic and fragmented across various agencies, often using instruments uncalibrated for scientific data collection," Spergel said.
NASA Science Unit's Senior research official Dan Evans said the team has "several months of work ahead of them.“
Surprisingly, Evans also said that panel members had been subjected to online abuse and harassment since starting the study.
While the panel was being formed last June, NASA officials had proclaimed at the time that “there's no evidence UAPs are extraterrestrial in origin."
The harassment is apparently severe enough to be “significantly hindering the scientific process and discouraging others to study this important subject matter," said NASA's science chief Nicola Fox during Wednesday’s meeting.
"Harassment only leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field,” said Fox.
Still, one Pentagon official says the existence of intelligent alien life has not been ruled out – even if the agencies have never been able to produce concrete evidence of extraterrestrial origins derived from any documented sighting.
Once considered top secret information, military and national security officials have kept a closed lid on the subject of unidentified flying objects for decades – deflecting, debunking, and discrediting reports of UFO sightings since at least the 1940s.
The term UFO has long been associated with notions of flying saucers, alien encounters, and abductions.
NASA specifically defines UAPs "as observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective."
The newly-coined term could also suggest that NASA is including sightings other than those that appear airborne.
The NASA panel was formed in addition to the Pentagon’s new All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).
The new Pentagon-based office is also running its own parallel UAP investigation to examine sightings documented in more recent years by military aviators and then analyzed by US defense and intelligence officials.
Since the AARO was formed, defense officials say that hundreds of new reports have come in, although, after examination, most of them are still categorized as unexplained.
Relying on unclassified data sensors has created major obstacles in studying unidentified objects, the panel said Wednesday, similar to issues raised by the Pentagon study.
Cybernews will report on any new developments revealed by the live panel - earthbound or not.
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