NASA does not say that extraterrestrials exist. But he says, for the first time in nearly half a century, that UFOs deserve attention.
The space agency announced last month that a team led by a respected astrophysicist will examine what the government now prefers to call UAPs, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena – and along the way what was once dismissed as theory of the conspiracy has earned the most impressive description of “high-risk, high-impact research.” May in a landmark congressional hearing on their own efforts to track sightings of mysterious flying objects, and the Director of National Intelligence last year released a report documenting more than 140 such puzzling occurrences.
So far, the results of these polls have been deflated: the unidentified phenomena remain mostly unidentified. This is precisely why NASA’s entry into the fray, with a modest $100,000 study slated to begin this fall and last about nine months, is so welcome. The Department of Defense and the intelligence community have a clear interest in examining, for example, whether what looks like an aircraft is advanced technology from a foreign power, perhaps designed for military use or to collect data. from heaven – although there is no evidence to back this up yet. hypothesis. The most cartoonish version of alien planets doomed to universal domination, of course, would also pose a threat to national security. But NASA’s interests are even broader, as are its capabilities.
NASA can also try to address national security issues, bringing scientific rigor to the project by analyzing available data as well as collecting new data. Part of the problem now is that those roughly 140 blurry images and videos offer little material for reliable conclusions, but NASA has access to a wealth of observations gathered both looking from Earth and looking at it. The agency also underlined its desire to ensure flight safety. But, as far-fetched as some have made it sound, the search for extraterrestrial life is in itself valuable – whether it takes the form of NASA’s existing efforts to scour the ocean worlds of Titan and Europa or, further afield off the beaten track, looking for signs of a technological civilization known as “technosignatures”.
The pursuit will obviously prove useful if NASA or someone else finds out that aliens do indeed exist. But it will also be worthwhile if – and this is much more likely – the researchers come up with another explanation for UAPs, and even if they come up with no explanation at all. As NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in his speech announcing the initiative, “We have the tools and the team that can help us improve our understanding of the unknown. This is the very definition of what science is.