NASA representatives have selected a team of 16 scientists and experts to study Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), or UFOs, as such objects are more often called in the media and pop culture, reports CNN.
The group will include experts from many disciplines — astrobiology, data science, oceanography, genetics, politics, and planetary science — as well as retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, a former fighter pilot, test pilot, and retired U.S. Navy captain.
NASA first announced the formation of the group back in June and announced that the team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, who is president of the Simons Foundation in New York.
The new group will not necessarily try to determine exactly what the unknown atmospheric phenomena are, which have been observed in restricted airspace for the past several decades, most often by the military. Most likely, the team will try to figure out how NASA can best approach the further study of these objects.
The space agency has already noted that the limited number of observations of unknown atmospheric phenomena complicates scientific conclusions about their nature.
“Without access to an extensive set of data, it is nearly impossible to verify or explain any observation, thus the focus of the study is to inform NASA what possible data could be collected in the future to scientifically discern the nature of UAP,” says the NASA press release.
There are several NAIA studies conducted by various branches of the US government, including a Pentagon report that was declassified in June 2021, but none of them have given the public a clear answer as to what these phenomena might be. NASA officials have long thought about how to formally study NAIA, but they wanted to make sure they got it right, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said in June.
This study, which is expected to last about nine months, will also be fully declassified and publicly available.