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By Richard Tew/NASA correspondent for The Post Newspaper

In recent years, sightings of craft with unknown origin exhibiting extraordinary propulsion and maneuvering abilities have increasingly been witnessed by citizens and pilots, both civilian and military alike.   In June of 2022, NASA took its first steps to find out what was going on.

Since the late 1940’s, when an alleged UFO crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, people from around the world have become more and more interested in the subject of extraterrestrial life.  In the decades to follow, sightings of strange, unexplainable craft, and creatures of unknown origin have increased exponentially.  In more recent times, these sightings have been observed by United States military personnel; particularly pilots.  

From its earliest days, NASA has led America’s question for learning all there is to learn about outer space and with it, the possibility of life outside of Earth.  

“NASA Searches for the unknown in air and space.  It’s in our DNA,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. 

Nelson, recently speaking with a panel of experts inside and outside of NASA, said the space agency commissioned an independent study team to investigate Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) sightings. 

“We did so with a few goals in mind,” said Nelson. 

Those goals included how NASA could apply its technology and expertise to study UAPs from a scientific perspective.  Nelson said the second goal was shifting the conversation “from sensationalism to science.” The third goal was to share the findings of their research “transparently around the world.” 

There is a global fascination with UAP, said Nelson.  He noted he is often asked about the sightings. 

“And much of that fascination is due to the unknown nature of it,” said Nelson. 

Nelson said most of the sightings of UAPs come with “very limited data.”

“That makes it even more difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of UAP,” said Nelson.

Using research, AI and experts in a variety of scientific fields, Nelson says this is “The first time NASA has taken concrete action to seriously look into UAP.  

“NASA has statutory authority to look for life in the universe,” said Nelson. 

Citing NASA’s newest telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, Nelson says images and research have revealed a larger, older universe than previously imaged.  Some 13.5 billion years he says.  Nelson suggests that given the billions of stars comprising billions of galaxies in the universe, finding “life” is inevitable. 

“And with James Webb looking at the exoplanets, we are now beginning to discover,” said Nelson.  “And somewhere out there we will discover another medium-sized stony planet around a medium-sized Sun or star at just the right distance not too far, not too close with a tilt in its axis that rotates that has carbon that will have a habitable atmosphere.”

Nelson said he personally believes there is life outside of Earth.  He says the independent study team’s overall goal is to recommend to NASA how to better examine UAP from a scientific perspective.  He says “The top take away from the study is there is a lot more to learn.” 

“We start this without any preconceived notions but understanding we are in a world of discovery,” said Nelson.

Just over eight minutes into the one hour video news briefing, Nelson revealed the team’s research couldn’t prove UAP had extraterrestrial origins.

“The NASA independent study team did not find any evidence that UAP has an extraterrestrial origin,” said Nelson.  “But, we don’t know what these UAP are.”

Nelson says that is why he is appointing Micheal McInerney as NASA’s director of UAP research.  McInerney was not named during the NASA press event about UAP, but his new role within the agency was announced later.  According to online reports, McInerney previously worked as a liaison between NASA and the Department of Defense.  He will help streamline NASA’s data and research on UAP to the federal government’s unified effort to understand UAP.

“They are being tasked with developing and overseeing the implementation of NASA’s vision for UAP research,” said Nelson.  “We will use NASA’s research to work with other agencies to analyze UAP. We will use AI and machine learning to search the skies for anomalies as we have been searching the heavens, and will continue to search the heavens for habitability and NASA will do this transparently.” 

NASA’s Dr. Nicola Fox, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate says UAP “Are one of our planet’s great mysteries,” but said “it’s really due to the limited number of high quality data that surrounds such incidents and often renders them unidentifiable.”

“While there are numerous eye-witness accounts and visuals associated with UAP, they are not consistent, they are not detailed and they are not curated observations that can be used to make definitive scientific conclusions about the nature and origins of UAP,” said Fox. 

Photo cutline: NASA recently shared findings of its UAP report utilizing experts from inside and outside of the storied space agency to try to shed light on the mysterious sightings.  Photo by NASA.

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