Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) as they are now called, are finally getting the attention they deserve. On June 9, 2022, NASA announced it had commissioned a study to examine observations of events that "cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena."
The study, led by astrophysicist David Spergel, will begin in early fall 2022. Expected to take about nine months, it will focus on examining documented UFOs and determining the best way to collect data on future sightings. The research intends to add a scientific perspective to the mysterious sightings that often appear to defy the laws of physics.
"NASA believes that the tools of scientific discovery are powerful and apply here also," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. "We have the tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown. That's the very definition of what science is. That's what we do."
NASA's announcement comes on the heels of the May 17, 2022, congressional hearings on UFO sightings. Members of the US Department of Defense's (DOD) UFO task force reported they had collected 400 reports of UFOs, mainly from Navy pilots. But months of investigation had revealed no clues on whether they were atmospheric events, enemy aircraft, or extraterrestrial objects.
However, the DOD is not giving up. On July 21, 2022, the US government agency announced it was expanding the scope of the UFO office to include both airborne and transmedium UFOs. Transmedium refers to an object's ability to traverse through multiple environments. For instance, anything that can fly through Earth's atmosphere as well as in space, or underwater, would be classified as transmedium.
Resources: NASA.gov, NPR.org, Space.com