NASA gets in the UFO game with new program announcement

Washington DC - NASA on Thursday officially joined the search for UFOs by announcing a new program that aims to track mysterious unidentified anomalous phenomena.

NASA on Thursday announced the launch of a new program investigating unidentified anomalous phenomena.
NASA on Thursday announced the launch of a new program investigating unidentified anomalous phenomena.  © Collage: WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP & 123RF/emumelo

The official's appointment is the result of a year-long fact-finding report into what the space agency prefers to call "UAP" (Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena).

"At NASA, it's in our DNA to explore – and to ask why things are the way they are," agency chief Bill Nelson said.

An independent team of 16 researchers concluded in the report that the search for UAPs "demands a rigorous, evidence-based approach."

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NASA is well positioned to play a prominent role, thanks to its satellite capabilities and other technical assets. But the agency stressed in its report that any findings of possible extraterrestrial origin "must be the hypothesis of last resort – the answer we turn to only after ruling out all other possibilities."

"We want to shift the conversation about UAP from sensationalism to science," Nelson said.

NASA initially coy on program leader

NASA published a report on UAP in May, detailing more than 800 unexplained "events" collected over 27 years.
NASA published a report on UAP in May, detailing more than 800 unexplained "events" collected over 27 years.  © WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

While initially withholding the program leader's name, NASA ultimately relented Thursday evening, saying in an updated press release it had appointed Mark McInerney as director of UAP research.

In government positions since 1996, McInerney has served as NASA's liaison to the Pentagon on UAP issues.

Even if NASA has long explored the heavens, hunting for the origin, identity and purpose of a growing number of unexplained flying objects over planet Earth is bringing unprecedented challenges.

Military and civilian pilots keep offering accounts on strange sightings. But decades of movies and sci-fi books about aliens mean the entire topic is mostly laughed off by the public as the territory of cranks.

There have been more than 800 "events" collected over 27 years, of which two to five percent are thought to be possibly anomalous, a NASA report said in May.

Mexico joins the UFO bandwagon

A hearing in Mexico's Congress featured the supposed bodies of "non-human" beings.
A hearing in Mexico's Congress featured the supposed bodies of "non-human" beings.  © REUTERS

The US government been increasingly focused on UAP in recent years, in part due to concerns that they are related to foreign surveillance.

One example of a still-unexplained phenomenon was a flying metallic orb spotted by an MQ-9 drone at an undisclosed location in the Middle East. Footage of the UAP was shown to Congress in April.

NASA's work, which relies on unclassified material, is separate from a parallel Pentagon investigation, though the two are coordinating on how to apply scientific tools and methods.

In July, David Grusch, a former US intelligence officer made headlines when he told a congressional committee he "absolutely" believes the government is in possession of unidentified anomalous phenomena – as well as remains of their alien operators.

His efforts to lend credibility to the subject weren't helped by participating in a congressional hearing in Mexico earlier this week, when the supposed bodies of two "non-human" beings were presented, leading to widespread ridicule.

Cover photo: Collage: WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP & 123RF/emumelo

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