Aliens and UFOs have been hot topics in the national conversation in recent years. NASA seems to have taken notice and wants to explore what people are seeing. They have announced that they are conducting a study to learn more about unexplainable things that people claim to see.
A statement on the NASA website explains that they want to find as much information as possible and expand the available data for scientists to look through. "The study will focus on identifying available data, how best to collect future data, and how NASA can use that data to move the scientific understanding of UAPs forward."
NASA is also attempting to reframe and rebrand what is commonly called UFOs. They now want them to be called unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs. The reason for the change is not apparent at the moment, though some believe that the agency intends to bring a more scientific bent to the study and add legitimacy to it.
Scientific America questions what NASA will add to the conversation. With the agency only allotting $100,000 for a nine-month study, there is not a lot of information they will be able to uncover in that time.
Princeton University astrophysicist David Spergel will lead the study. He is well-respected, and many believe that he will lay the foundation for a more extended look at what is happening with extraterrestrial life and the objects that are seen in the sky that can't be explained away.
With NASA's study in the early stages, many people wonder what will happen to the debate about other life forms in the galaxy. Some complain that this is a waste of money. Using the argument that if there is intelligent life in the universe, they say the other beings would have already made contact. Others argue that humans need to be the ones who make first contact.
University of Rochester Physics and Astronomy Professor Adam Frank wrote in Newsweek that there is no way NASA finds anything. Though, he champions the study anyway. He believes that through research, people will become more aware of the standards of evidence.
In Frank's example of him claiming to find a civilization, he says everything needs to be perfect. The collection of data needs to be done precisely and without flaw. If it's not, the scientific community will tear his report apart.
Which is what he believes NASA will add to the conversation. Since many consider the organization "America's space agency," it will lend credibility to the argument.
Avi Loeb, who heads Harvard's Galileo Project, told the Jerusalem Post that he is happy about the study. He believes that the time has come for the answer to the question about UAPs and aliens to be answered: "Government agencies and academia should be working together towards the collection of new evidence-based knowledge on UAP."
Where Are We Now?
According to several experts, NASA is reviewing evidence already available. Once that is completed, they will launch their own tools into space and look into new cases of people claiming to see a UAP.
Mark Rodeghier, who is the scientific director of the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago, says the newest study is critical and should be conducted within the purview of the public. He told Space.com, "both because this will allow a range of qualified researchers to be involved, but also because this will permit the results of the investigation to be shared with the public."
This would allow the public to see the research in real-time, as they did with Covid-19. Rodeghier believes this will enable people to form opinions based on the evidence presented rather than waiting for a full report. He also indicates that the people who see UAPs might feel more comfortable sharing their experiences with NASA if they were able to see it studied firsthand.
That is the goal of a new startup company, Enigma Labs, as well. The company was started with the goal of crowdsourcing experiences, analyzing them, and determining if they were real or were part of an elaborate hoax.
The company's CEO, Alex Smith, says their goal is to get the information and become a reliable source for these sightings. He told Bloomberg: "There was really no destination for credible information, data and sharing of expertise and insights."
With the new focus on UPAs and aliens, many wonder what the next facet of research will reveal.