A panel of NASA experts formed last year to study what the government calls “unidentified aerial phenomena,” commonly referred to as UFOs, was to hold its first public meeting on Wednesday, ahead of a report expected in the coming weeks.
NASA’s first UFO investigation
The 16-member body, which brings together experts in fields ranging from physics to astrobiology, was established last June to review unclassified UFO sightings and other data collected from the civilian government and commercial sectors.
The goal of Wednesday’s four-hour public session “is to hold final deliberations before the agency’s independent study team releases a report this summer,” NASA said in the meeting announcement.
The panel is the first such inquiry ever conducted under the auspices of the US space agency into a subject the government once designated the exclusive and secret purview of military and national security officials.
The NASA study is separate from a recently formalized Pentagon investigation into unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, documented in recent years by military aviators and analyzed by US defense and intelligence officials, writes Reuters.
“There is no evidence that the unidentified objects are of extraterrestrial origin”
While NASA’s science mission was seen by some as promising a more open approach to a subject long treated as taboo by the defense establishment, the US space agency made it clear from the start that it was not rushing to jump to conclusions.
“There is no evidence that the unidentified flying objects are of extraterrestrial origin,” NASA said in announcing the panel’s formation last June.
What NASA says about UFOs
NASA, in announcing Wednesday’s meeting, said the space agency defines UFOs as “observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or scientifically known natural phenomena.”
US defense officials said the Pentagon’s recent initiative to investigate such sightings has resulted in hundreds of new reports being reviewed, though most remain classified as unexplained.
The head of the Pentagon’s recently established All-Area Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) said the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life had not been ruled out, but that no observations had produced evidence of extraterrestrial origin.