NASA says that somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings can’t be easily explained.
On May 31, NASA held a 16-member panel discussion about what it described as “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (UAP), an alternative rendering of what most in the public refer to as UFOs. The discourse, led by astrophysicist David Spergel, comes as NASA prepares a report on UAPs that it hopes to release by the end of July.
While the UAP term can technically be applied to any unexplained sighting on land and sea, or in space, panelists said that all reports so far have come from within the earth’s atmosphere at altitudes flown by military and commercial aircraft.
“In recent years for subjects of unidentified aerial phenomena, nowadays termed unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAPs, has captured the attention of the public, the scientific community and the government alike,” said Dan Evans, assistant deputy associate administrator for research at NASA, who introduced the panel.
“It’s now our collective responsibility to investigate these occurrences with a rigorous scientific scrutiny that they deserve.”
NASA mounted a dedicated investigation into UAP sightings in June 2022, after a substantial uptick in public interest in the phenomena when the government released formerly classified videos showing fast-moving spherical aircraft that demonstrated capabilities well beyond current technology.
For example, a panelist pointed to an instance of one such craft maneuvering against the wind at Mach 2 speed.
One of the most recent incidents of a UAP exhibiting remarkable technological feats was captured during a 2022 incident in the Middle East, which displays a quick moving spherical aircraft maneuvering quickly at a relatively low altitude. The craft, like many of its kind, resembles no known aircraft today.
National Security Concerns
UAPs have also raised national security concerns. During a 2021 incident in California, several people reported seeing a V-shaped array of aircraft hovering above a military base.
UAPs “raise concerns about the safety of our skies,” Evans said. “And it’s this nation’s obligation to determine whether these phenomena pose any potential risks to airspace safety.”
Similar incidents have been recorded at various nuclear military facilities, with some reports of nuclear warheads having been disabled by the unknown aircraft; reports of such incidents date back to the 1960s. Air Force vets have recounted experiences of as many as 10 U.S. nuclear warheads being disabled during tests in the 1960s, with no explanation.
But despite U.S. and NASA investigation into the matter, as many as 5 percent of these incidents cannot be explained by “mundane” interpretations, said panelist Sean McMorrow, associate director for mission support at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.
“The numbers I would say that we see that are possibly really anomalous are less than single-digit percentages of those in that total database [of reported sightings], so maybe two to five-ish percent,” McMorrow said.
Many sightings can be explained as mundane, he said. As an example, he offered one instance where a commercial flight was misidentified as a UAP due to pilot error.
“Only a very small percentage of UAP reports display signatures that could reasonably be described as ‘anomalous,'” McMorrow said. “The majority of unidentified objects reported … demonstrate mundane characteristics of readily explainable sources.”
Others are less easily explained, however.
Citing the recently disclosed Middle East incident, McMorrow said, “This is a typical example of the thing that we see most often. We see these all over the world and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers.
“The vast majority of what has been reported and what we have data on—a little less than half now—are orbs, round spheres.”
NASA experts provided no explanation of the phenomena, saying the agency’s role is not “to resolve the nature of these events.”
Rather, said Spergel, “NASA’s role is to use its unique capabilities, and its role as a civilian agency, interacting with the scientific community in an open and transparent manner.”
At the moment, “existing data and eyewitness reports alone are insufficient to provide conclusive evidence about the nature and origin of every UAP event,” he said.
Even in this more limited scope task, Spergel and others said, there have been challenges due to both data quality issues and a “stigma” surrounding the issue.
“The current data collection efforts regarding UAPs are unsystematic and fragmented across various agencies, often using instruments uncalibrated for scientific data collection,” Spergel said.
“And we face, looking through this data, a significant background. A background of many of these events are commercial aircraft, civilian American military, drones, weather and research balloons, military equipment, ionospheric phenomenon.”
Adding to this are challenges that many people—civilians and pilots alike—still may feel uncomfortable reporting sightings of UAPs.
Evans, Spergel, and NASA Associate Administrator Nicola Fox each also addressed the ways that “stigma” around UAPs makes investigation difficult.
Until recently, UAPs and UFOs have been treated as the domain of conspiracy theories, and have run contrary to established narratives. Now, just because the government is taking the matter seriously, that stigma hasn’t disappeared.
Several panelists took a moment to address threats, including death threats, leveled against them for their scientific investigation into the issue.
This kind of “harassment,” Fox said, “only leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field, significantly hindering the scientific progress and discouraging others to study this important subject matter.”
Spergel noted that commercial pilots particularly may feel uncomfortable relating sightings of possible UAPs out of concern for their careers or social image.
“There’s a real stigma among people about reporting events,” Spergel said. “And despite NASA’s extensive efforts to reduce the stigma, the origin of UAPs is unclear. And we feel many events remain unreported … One of our goals in having NASA play a role is to remove stigma and get high quality data.”
Investigation into the matter is still in its infancy, and as yet much remains unexplained.
Spergel warned that the nature of the subject means that even if issues with data and stigmas are addressed, “there’s no guarantee that all sightings will be explained.”
Many have taken the sightings as an indication that we may not be alone in the universe, due to the advanced capabilities displayed by the small percentage of crafts that remain inexplicable.
Others have taken a more terrestrial approach to the craft, fearing they may be an advanced prototype of the Chinese or Russian militaries.
Whatever their origin, the U.S. government is increasingly taking the matter seriously as a possible threat to U.S. national security and technological supremacy. In 2022, the National Defense Authorization Act addressed the issue, instituting new protections to safeguard whistleblowers reporting sightings of such aircraft.
From The Epoch Times