The possibility of extraterrestrial visits to Earth is certainly being taken more and more seriously in the United States: This Thursday, NASA announced the launch in the fall of a multi-month study of unidentified aerial phenomena, the famous UFOs.
Thus, after attempts by US intelligence, then by the Pentagon, it is NASA’s turn to look at the presence of these objects, which, for example, move abnormally or very rapidly in our atmosphere, and which cannot be explained by current knowledge.
There is no evidence that these phenomena have an extraterrestrial origin, the space agency immediately stressed. But “if anyone asked me if I think there is convincing evidence for intelligent life in any of these phenomena, I would give a perfectly acceptable answer for a scientist, which is that I do not know”, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at NASA, said at a news conference.
However, the issue could not be more important because it concerns both national security and air traffic, the US agency claimed.
Nine months of research will begin in the fall
The study will be conducted by leading scientists and aviation experts. Scheduled to start in early fall, it should last nine months and lead to a report published.
Three goals have been announced: to collect the data that already exists, to determine what is missing and how to best collect it, and to decide with which tools to analyze in the future.
“Today we have a very limited collection of these observations,” stated during the same press conference David Spergel, astrophysicist placed at the forefront of this work. ‘It makes it difficult to draw conclusions. »
However, mountains of data do exist, according to NASA experts, who want to collect them from governments, private companies, associations or even individuals. The budget allocated should not exceed $ 100,000.
The subject is being studied more and more seriously
The idea is to destigmatize the subject. “One of the results of this study for me would be to make everyone understand (…) that the scientific process is valid to treat all problems, including this one,” launched Thomas Zurbuchen, who says that he himself has decided to open this study.
In June 2021, US intelligence claimed in a long-awaited report that there was no evidence for the existence of aliens, while acknowledging that dozens of phenomena observed by military pilots could not be explained. And last month, for the first time in more than 50 years, the US Congress held a public hearing on it.
According to the Pentagon, an increasing number of unidentified objects have been reported in the sky over the past 20 years. And they inevitably arouse the wildest speculation.
“I believe that new scientific mechanisms will be discovered,” said Thomas Zurbuchen. “There have been many cases where something that seemed almost magical turned out to be a new scientific effect. »
“Never underestimate what nature is capable of,” he added.
Probably several different phenomena
The experts assured to embark on this project without preconceived ideas. But for David Spergel, UFOs probably group different phenomena that cannot be placed under a single explanation. The study may not immediately shed light on many aspects, he admitted, but should rather provide a roadmap for moving toward that goal in the future.
NASA is already looking for extraterrestrial life in space, for example by looking for traces of ancient life in microbial form on Mars, or techno signatures from other planets (signals indicating the presence of technologies). But this is the first time that the US space agency has seriously considered this option on Earth.
“I do not think anyone has ever systematically looked at unidentified aerial phenomena in the past,” Daniel Evans, who is in charge of coordinating the study for the space agency, said Thursday. But “for decades, NASA has responded to the call to tackle some of the most confusing mysteries we know, and it’s no different.”