NASA Wakes Up to UAP, Believers and Skeptics

For the first time in NASA’s history, an independent group gave a one-day conference on UAP. Here is everything that was said… and not said.


Published 2023-06-14 at 08:58

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On May 31, 2023, NASA gave the first meeting of its Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Team (UAPIST). Created in 2022, the team aims to identify “available data, how best to collect future data, and how NASA can use that data to move the scientific understanding of UAPs forward.” The study will serve as a "community-based, interdisciplinary forum for soliciting and coordinating community analysis and input and providing advice”.

The creation of the UAPIST for a limited one-year activity originated from NASA administrator and former Senator Bill Nelson as well as Associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen. Interestingly, in an interview for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, Bill Nelson declared that he talked to the pilots involved in the 2004 Nimitz case, declaring that neither he nor they managed to identify the advanced craft they encountered. When asked about the possible origin of the craft, he answered: “Who am I to say that planet Earth is the only location of a life form that is civilized and organized like ours?” Today the team is under the authority of Dr. Nicola Fox and Dr. Daniel Evans and led by astrophysicist David Spergel.

During the last CAIPAN conference organized under the auspices of the French Space Agency (CNES)’s Information and Study Group on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (GEIPAN), the Assistant Deputy Associate Administrator for Research Dr. Daniel Evans presented the ongoing work of the UAPIST: a “small fraction that appears to demonstrate extremely advanced propulsion technology, and beyond that, UAPs most clearly pose a safety of flight issue.” He continued explaining that the team is constituted of 16 academic experts, including:

  • Astronaut Scott Kelly
  • Associate Professor of Computational and Data Science, research affiliate to SETI Anamaria Berea, whose research is focused on the “emergence of communication in complex living systems and on data science applications in astrobiology, for the science of both biosignatures and technosignatures.” 
  • Former undersecretary for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research at the Department of Defense Reggie Brothers
  • Warren Randolph, deputy executive director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Accident Investigation and Prevention for Aviation Safety department
  • Dr. Walter Scott, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Maxar, a space technology company that specializes in earth intelligence and space infrastructure which recently obtained a 10-year contract from the National Reconnaissance Office
  • SETI researcher and instrumentalist Shelley Wright
NASA, Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Group, group photo 1, Under Fair Use For Information

Study Group and Harassment

Even though the team will be auditing NASA’s resources on UAP, the American Space Agency insists that it is unrelated to its astrobiology programs looking for life beyond Earth and its “ space-based research that focuses on technosignatures – that is signatures of advanced technology in outer space -- from other planets”

According to Team Leader David Spergel, UAPIST will be “identifying what data – from civilians, [the] government, non-profits, companies – exists, what else we should try to collect, and how to best analyze it.”

After thanking the panel and paying tribute to Ret. Air Force Master Sergeant Sam Sato, who “played a critical role in UAP analysis", Daniel Evans declared that seven members of UAPIST were subjected to harassment during the one-year study, and that “any form of harassment towards our panelists only serves to detract from the scientific process, which requires an environment of respect and openness.” 

That point is further emphasized by Daniel Evans:

“Harassment only leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field, significantly hindering the scientific progress and discouraging others to study this important subject matter. Your harassment also obstructs the public’s right to knowledge.”

This point will be repeated by almost all panelists during the conference and one of the rare times the U.S. administration has acknowledged that UAP stigma prevents scientific investigation and needs fighting. A significant change, after many decades of disparaging official discourse on the UFO/UAP topic. In a recent article, UAPCheck tracked down one possible source of the stigma. He adds that “it is this nation’s obligation to determine whether these phenomena pose any potential risks to airspace safety”. 

Photo by Matheus Bertelli

Flight Risks

An interesting development occurred just a few hours after the conference on the very issue of airspace safety. Lt Ryan Graves, the first Navy pilot in recent times to publicly mention military personnel encountering UAP in the American skies on a daily basis, officially launched his “Americans for Safe Aerospace” 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. AFSA’s leadership council includes pilots Alex Dietrich and Dave Fravor, who witnessed the Nimitz incident in 2004. Its advisory board includes another set of interesting individuals:

  • Former Head of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ret. Admiral Tim Gallaudet;
  • Former Defense Editor for Politico Bryan Bender;
  • Head of Harvard’s UAP ground observatory network Galileo Project Avi Loeb;
  • Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and architect of the 2017 New York Times articles Christopher Mellon;
  • Stanford’s Professor of Pathology Garry Nolan;
  • Ret. Colonel and NASA Astronaut Terry Virts

The existence of such a list of individuals, publicly working to raise public and government awareness about the dangers associated with UAP, seems to show that the stigma is receding at an unprecedented rate.

NASA,, Daniel Evans
NASA, Daniel Evans, Under Fair Use For Information

Daniel Evans

Back to the NASA conference, regarding the final UAPIST report, Evans adds that their recommendations will be published in a public report this summer.

Later during the conference, UAPIST Leader David Spergel will add that the report is planned for August 1st. 

Daniel Evans then insists that there is a lack of reliable data and points out that eyewitness reports cannot provide conclusive evidence that supports UAP recognition and analysis.

He concludes his introduction by noting that UAPIST will only work with unclassified data and that transparency would be of the utmost importance. These arguments were repeated again and again by almost all panelists during the day-long conference.

He finally explains the architecture of UAPIST. Far from being a governmental policy advisory group, the team is an audit committee under the authority of the Earth Science Advisory Committee (ESAC), that doesn’t include any active NASA personnel. He adds that only ESAC "will debate the recommendations and formally transmit the report to the government”. It will be interesting to see the influence of the ESAC on the outcome of the UAPIST’s report this summer.

Among other technicalities, he notes that the change from “Aerial” to “Anomalous” extends drastically the scope of the study, including all sorts of phenomena. The same analysis was proposed by J.D. Daniel Sheehan during an interview with The Debrief’s Chrissy Newton, though Sheehan’s conclusion differs. According to him, it is a tactic to artificially increase the number of easily explained cases in the data set. It would mathematically lower the percentage of UAP cases allegedly caused by advanced crafts. In doing so, it would reduce the resources allocated specifically to study specifically unknown crafts, as explained in this UAP Check report

NASA, Dr. Nicola Fox, Under Fair Use For Information
NASA, Dr. Nicola Fox, Under Fair Use For Information

Dr. Nicola Fox

Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Dr Nicola Fox, follows:

“The UAP Independent Study Team was commissioned to create a roadmap for NASA on how to use the tools of science to evaluate and categorize the nature of UAPs going forwards.”

Then, even though the conference is merely beginning, Fox proposes a conclusion for the day-long event (dubbed a “working meeting”).

“Right now, there is a very limited number of high-quality observations and data curation of UAP. The existing data available from eyewitness reports are often muddled and cannot provide conclusive evidence that supports UAP recognition and analysis.” [...]  “This lack of high-quality data makes it impossible to draw scientific conclusions on the nature of UAP.” 

That conclusion will be echoed by almost every panelist in the course of the meeting.

Dr Fox then calls for the use of unclassified data, inviting researchers to comb NASA’s database, declaring that classified data couldn’t be shared freely, and adding that “this study relies on open data”, insisting that any piece of content published on the website has been thoroughly verified and calibrated unless specified as “Quick Look Data”. 

Another category of information absent from Dr Fox's discourse: declassified information. An intriguing omission, considering that military resources - the main source of declassified data - has always financed and helped scientific research. To name just one example, the 2014 discovery, by Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb, of the earliest known meteor from another solar system to hit Earth was validated by none other than the U.S. Space Command, a unified combatant command of the United States Department of Defense. Even more interesting, the first panelist to present his analysis to the conference a bit later was Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, who showed the state of his investigation on UAP inside the U.S. Department of Defense, presenting declassified information from the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). Regarding the overclassification of such information, pointed out recently by the Director of National Intelligence Haines - and contrary to what most people think - the U.S. President doesn’t have all powers regarding declassification of information. For example

“Some secrets, such as information related to nuclear weapons, are handled separately under a specific statutory scheme that Congress has adopted under the Atomic Energy Act. Those secrets cannot be automatically declassified by the president alone and require, by law, extensive consultation with executive branch agencies.”

Picture by J. Passepartout - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Dr. David Spergel

The conference continues with UAPIST’s leader Dr. David Spergel, who begins his presentation by pointing out that the Department of Defense’s AARO is in charge of “leading the whole of government UAP effort”. He follows up on stigma but emphasizes that one of the goals of NASA would be to remove it from UAP study. When asked by Dr. Paula Bontempi how to properly calibrate sensors for UAP, he explains that one part of the study of UAP would involve listing all possible artifact effects happening on telescopes to cancel out fake positives. He continues, explaining that the problem is even worse with all footage captured with obsolete instruments. 

In an interesting metaphor, Spergel then explains how some Fast Radio Bursts, large emissions of radio signals yet unexplained, were false positives coming from microwave ovens near radio detectors. It didn’t explain the real, enigmatic FRB, but lowered the number of signals to investigate further. 

This strategy of listing all the possible explanatory hypotheses - be they rare phenomena or instrumental artifacts - has been used for half a century by other government investigation groups, such as the French GEIPAN, but presents one major drawback:

Proceeding by elimination, it induces a critical, essentially incriminating view of unexplained cases reported by witnesses. It gives the impression that all you're trying to do is reduce the number of unexplained cases - their percentage is falling - all the more so because you're spending time and energy on them. In the end, all that is left is less than 3.5% of unexplained cases (in France).

And because all resources are allocated to the investigation (collecting and researching known explanatory hypotheses), resources and energy aren’t focused on researching and analyzing the most reliable phenomena - namely events with a high degree of strangeness, reported by military pilots as being advanced craft.

Solving this problem would need a specific program to study truly abnormal cases, which was not even mentioned in the five-hour discussion.

This problem is the same as the one encountered by the AARO, which chose the same strategy and now finds itself with a very large number of unexplained cases due to a lack of information.

NASA, Department of Defense, AARO, Sean Kirkpatrick, UAP Reporting Trends 1996-2023 Under Fair Use For Information

All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office

That was made obvious by the presentation of the current director of the Department of Defense’s All-Anomaly Resolution Office Dr Kirkpatrick, who gives the first presentation of the NASA meeting. Interestingly, as noted before, while NASA is an independent agency, and the UAPIST an independent study group, Daniel Evans will later note that the AARO is the lead agency of the US Government regarding UAP. 

Kirkpatrick started by calling NASA an “invaluable partner”, declaring that NASA’s role is to use unclassified data, while AARO’s role is to use classified data. 

During his presentation, Kirkpatrick notes that the number of cases reached 800, with 16 to 40 considered truly anomalous. Regarding the sphere filmed flying above Iraq shown during the public hearing of the US Senate, he also explained:

"This is a spherical orb, metallic [...] we see these all over the world and we see these making very interesting apparent maneuvers [...] That is a real object, absolutely.” 

This is a notable change from his somewhat lackluster presentation to the US Congress, where he simply explained that they were looking for data to definitely explain the case away. Such a statement coming from a reserved character such as Dr. Kirkpatrick is one of the main surprises coming out of the NASA meeting. 

He then shows another case, 3 lights moving in a synchronized way against a static background of white dots. He declared that the movement was due to a camera jitter, but when asked later about why the background of white dots was static while there was camera jitter, he declares:  

“I am not 100% certain of that answer, it might just be a bunch of dust on that sensor. It is either a stabilized background, or it’s just garbage.“

He continues, explaining that they are now looking to establish months-long 24/7 monitoring campaigns with dedicated sensor platforms able to be activated when a pilot reports a sighting. He adds that public science observation platforms could be linked to the same trigger to increase coverage, particularly with NASA’s help. 

He also recommends that contrary to what NASA’s administration previously stated regarding the difficulty of looking for UAP in the NASA archives, NASA could use artificial intelligence to look for “low-hanging fruits”. 

This idea was also proposed by Dr Jacques Vallée during the last CAIPAN, where he asked Daniel Evans the same question, and Evans answered that it could be possible but they were looking towards real-time resources to track ongoing UAP events.

NASA, Department of Defense, AARO, Sean Kirkpatrick, Spherical UAP, Under Fair Use For Information

During the Q&A, Kirkpatrick makes some interesting remarks, noting that the U.S. Department of Defense “can point the largest collection apparatus in the entire globe at any point we want. You just have to tell me where I want to point it.” He then quickly adds, “Most people, including the government, don’t like it when I point our entire collection apparatus to your backyard.” That’s an interesting statement when all other panelists and himself repeated numerous times during the conference that they were all lacking reliable data. Of course, intelligence capacities are restricted regarding U.S. citizens. But US citizens only represent 4.1% of Earth’s population and U.S. territory 1.9% of its surface. That leaves plenty of space for Dr. Kirkpatrick to check for UAP. That is also reminiscent of the statement by the former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe “It’s seen on satellites”.

Continuing the Q&A, Dr. Berea asks again the question regarding the use of AI on archival footage from the Department of Defense. Kirkpatrick answers that they lack definite footage of UAP to train an AI to identify them. In a follow-up question, Mike Gold asks which definition of “anomalous” Kirkpatrick uses. AARO’s director answered:

“We actually developed some definitions on all of these things. Both to the White House and to Congress, I think we’ve gotten some of that into law now. But essentially anomalous is anything that is not readily understandable by the operator or the sensor”. 

He then adds that regarding UAP seemingly going underwater, “we have shown it is not the case, that is actually a sensor anomaly that we’ve now figured out, and we’re going to be publishing all that”. One could think of the Omaha case regarding such a statement. Back in July 2019, the U.S. Navy encountered swarms of unidentified objects. Journalists Jeremy Corbell and George Knapp released in June 2021 a video allegedly filmed on a ship where an alleged object with a spherical infrared signature seemed to go underwater. Furthermore, for whistleblower David Grusch, in a recent interview,  that specific object was truly anomalous. 

NASA, Department of Defense, AARO, Sean Kirkpatrick, Three UAP, Under Fair Use For Information

Going back to the Q&A, about international cooperation, Kirkpatrick explains:

“I have just held our first Five Eyes forum on this subject. [...] We’ve entered into discussions with our partners on data sharing:

  • How do they do reporting? 
  • What kind of analysis can they help us with? 
  • What kind of calibration can they help us with?
  • What can we help them with?

And we’re establishing all of that right now. And they’re gonna end up, you know, sending their information and data to us to feed into the process that we’ve laid out for how we’re going to do all this.”

The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Regarding the latter, journalist Christopher Sharp, investigating the ties between US and UK on UAP, declared that the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) “is not prepared to comment on the Five Eyes UAP meeting mentioned by AARO's Sean Kirkpatrick at yesterday's NASA event.”

Interestingly, Nick Pope, who worked for the British MoD, commented: ”Until recently, the UK MoD refused to comment on whether or not they were engaging with AARO, as per the NDAA remit (self-evidently they were). Dr. K[irkpatrick]'s statement yesterday let the cat out of the bag, and made the MoD's "no comment" untenable.“ He later added about Australia: “Australia may not want to engage, but the National Defense Authorization Act mandates the US to engage with international allies, so it's a box Dr. Kirkpatrick has to tick, and a Five Eyes forum is a good mechanism for this. So yes, someone in Australia is engaging!” 

Regarding Canada, journalist Daniel Otis recently published a follow-up article showing that it did indeed participate in a briefing regarding UAP:

"While the details of the meeting remain classified it can be characterized as the sharing of information on the subject of UAP and no further details can be shared at this time."

Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS

FAA's Mike Freie

The morning ended with FAA's Mike Freie’s presentation. He explained that if most of the territory is covered by radars, some areas are only covered by one or even none, specifically above the northern part of the U.S. He added that often radars are under military purview and are being restricted from giving out information to the public.     

Questioned by UAPIST’s members, he explained that air traffic controllers have a UAP reporting protocol, although there is no communication about it to promote its use, and that to his knowledge there is nothing being done regarding pilots. 

He declared that on the entire U.S. territory, ATC reports 8 to 10 UAP per month, but that number jumped to 68 in February, due to the communication done around the Chinese balloon incident and the three other objects that are still to this day unidentified, as shown recently in a report by Christopher Sharp for Liberation Times.  He then declared that ATC reports are forwarded to the Domestic Event Network. 

One can wonder how many UAP reports ATC would give out if their reporting system was better known. He concluded by explaining that the FAA doesn’t store unfiltered radar data because it would be impractical, and filtered data are only kept for a few months. That is very reminiscent of the February objects that were detected in the American skies only after the filter was lowered due to the visual detection of the Chinese balloon by the civilian population and the public outcry about this violation of the sovereign space of the U.S. 

NASA, FAA, Mike Freie, Radar Line of Sight Coverage Above Ground Level, Under Fair Use For Information
NASA, FAA, Mike Freie, Radar Line of Sight Coverage Above Ground Level, Under Fair Use For Information


The afternoon was dedicated to panelists’ presentations and discussions. Dr. Nadia Drake was the first to speak. This science journalist is the daughter of famous astrophysicist Dr. Frank Drake, known for formulating his eponymous equation, used to estimate the number of civilizations willing to communicate using conventional radio signals in the Milky Way. She started summarizing the work made by the panel during its year of activity, explaining that the panel focused its work on aerial phenomena despite the change to “anomalous” inside the law. She explained that the UAPIST acknowledges that there is tremendous interest from the public, and that “many credible witnesses have reported seeing unidentified objects in the sky”. She added: “As a corollary to date, in the refereed scientific literature, there is no conclusive evidence suggesting an extraterrestrial origin for UAP”. She then differentiated the activity of AARO and NASA:  “What can we recommend that NASA can do that the DoD cannot?” 

Finally, she concluded by asking herself “What are UAP?” She stated that they first need to define what to look for:

“Many discoveries in science are rooted in initially unexplained and bizarre phenomena. So by carefully scrutinizing the sky, or however we end up defining our search space, and by collaborating across disciplines, we are likely to learn new things about our planet.

The panel then exchanged on the different possible meanings of “Anomalous”. UAPIST leader David Spergel concludes:

“Eventually, it’s all NASA once you get up, you know, towards most, certainly much of the solar system, and out to our galaxy.”

Dr. Paula Bontempi, professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, followed with a presentation on the role NASA can have in UAP studies. She reminded the audience of the 60 years of experience of NASA in observational sciences, both in space and on Earth, in all domains. She then explained how NASA’s reputation can fight the stigma: 

“NASA also has a long-standing public trust. This is essential to communicate those findings about phenomena to the public. And as that was mentioned several times, it is very important to destigmatize the reporting and raise awareness of cultural and social barriers to doing so.”

She then emphasized that NASA has a strong tradition of interdisciplinary research, a necessity for UAP studies, particularly once they need to search through NASA’s vast archives. She explained how the public can get involved with a scientific investigation on UAP through that means, further reducing stigma by working on NASA’s platform. 

Photo by SpaceX

Dr. Frederica Bianco, Deputy Project Scientist for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory begins her presentation by explaining how unreliable the available data on UAP was from a scientific point of view thus far. She gave the same possible solution to this problem as David Spergel, with the same drawback:

“The alternative approach in detecting anomalies requires a thorough and deep understanding of what is normal and usual, to tease out what is unusual.”[...] “What is usual, maybe the balloons, the aircraft, and weather are natural phenomena that we have heard of and what is unusual, what is an anomaly is anything that is not consistent with the way in which those things look in our data.”

She didn't dismiss difficulties, stating: “ It’s an extremely hard game” and continued:

“The data that we may want to collect ideally will be collected in a multi-sensor and multi-platform and multi-site manner.” 

Interestingly, during that day-long conference, Harvard’s Project Galileo, led by Dr. Avi Loeb, was never mentioned. A few days before the conference, Project Galileo had 8 peer-reviewed papers published in the Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation regarding the observation of UAP from the ground using a network of observatories, and created its first observatory on the roof of Harvard just a few months ago.

While almost all panelists, NASA administrators, and officials requested reliable scientific data, it is strange that the Galileo Project was not referenced during the conference. The same silence was noted by Dr. Avi Loeb, who published an article in the days following the conference, explaining how, since the beginning of its UAP study, NASA remained closed to dialogue, and that it was the reason he originally started the Galileo Project. This is a paradoxical situation, with numerous panelists during the conference calling for collaboration with other actors on the field. 

During the Q&A, Dr. Bianco expanded on the idea of data collection by explaining how cell phones can be used as tools to crowdsource investigation, an idea that will be later supported by Dr. Spergel. 

Photo by Pixabay

Dr. David Grinspoon, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, took the floor and explained how the tools and methods used in astrobiology could be used to study UAP. Indeed, he stated that this field is already looking for anomalies in data sets “which might betray the presence of life”. He then tackled the hypothesis of an extraterrestrial origin of UAP: 

“NASA is also supporting some research studying technosignatures. While there is, at present, no evidence we’re aware of, suggesting an extraterrestrial source for UAPs. These existing NASA programs are relevant to the question of UAPs in at least two ways: is it a known or unknown natural phenomena? Must it be technological? Is it known terrestrial technology? Second, if we do acknowledge an extraterrestrial source, however unlikely as one possibility for UAPs, then these objects must have traveled through the solar system to get here. Within the scientific community, there’s a widespread, but by no means a universal belief that there are extraterrestrial civilizations. The same rationale, which supports the idea that extraterrestrial civilizations may exist, and may be detectable, also supports the idea that finding extraterrestrial artifacts in our solar system is at least plausible. 

NASA is the lead agency for solar system exploration. It already has an active program for detecting objects in our solar neighborhood, using both ground-based and space-based facilities. And it could leverage those capabilities to search for objects in space with anomalous motion, anomalous trajectories, unusual light curves, anomalous spectral signatures, or other characteristics.”

Once again, no reference to the Galileo Project, which also has a program to look for Oumuamua-style objects, anomalous objects coming from outside the solar system and accelerating unconventionally. Grinspoon concluded: 

“Most of the solar system has not been searched for artifacts or anomalies. And these modest data analysis efforts could potentially be applied to existing and planned planetary missions. The Galaxy does not stop at the edge of the solar system, and the solar system does not stop at the top of the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s all a continuum of possibilities worthy of investigation. If NASA applies the same rigorous methodology toward UAPs, that it applies to the study of possible life elsewhere, then we stand to learn something new and interesting, whatever the ultimate explanation is, of those phenomena.”

During the Q&A he gave an interesting answer regarding the stigma in astrobiology research: 

“Technosignatures were kind of treated, kept at arm’s length for a long time by NASA because of stigma, and ultimately, can’t be kept away forever. If you’re, if you are an agency curiosity-driven, trying to understand the whole universe, you have to move beyond stigmas, and just try to honestly look at whatever evidence there is. And so I think in that broad sense, the same lesson ought to apply to UAPs.”

Dr. Karlin Toner, Senior Advisor for Data Policy Integration at the Federal Aviation Administration followed, restating the need to remove the stigma by “encouraging military aviators to disclose anomalies”, and continuing by giving a glimpse of UAPIST activities during its one-year activity:

“Our team has really only seen I’d say a few unclassified images of UAP [...] And I believe we’ve heard a single firsthand account from a former military aviator.”

In a later comment, she added that “we haven’t done a robust cataloging, we looked at sources, mentioned sources that we think might be relevant, but perhaps more robust effort, cataloging would be a good modest start.”

She ended her presentation by advising NASA “ to more fully assess the cultural and social barriers to studying and reporting UAP and for NASA to implement a plan to leverage its brand image to start removing these obstacles.”

NASA, Pr. Joshua Semeter, Go Fast, Determination of object velocity

While almost all panelists called for NASA to use unclassified data, Pr. of Engineering Joshua Semeter gave a presentation on the Go Fast case using partially declassified data: “And in this case, the object moved about 390 meters in 22 seconds, and that corresponds to a velocity of just 40 miles per hour.” 

That case was made famous by the 2017 New York Times articles and the analysis work made by journalist and analyst Marik Von Rennenkampf, who just published an article about Semeter’s analysis:

“While the NASA study team member who analyzed the video employed basic trigonometry to conclude that the cold, sphere-like “GoFast” object was traveling relatively slowly (about 40 miles per hour), citizen scientists — UFO skeptics and “agnostics” alike — have created three-dimensional models that recreate the effect of the strong winds that evening.”

“When accounting for wind, which can alter such geometrical reconstructions significantly, current analyses show that the “GoFast” object must travel far faster, at approximately 115 (versus 40) miles per hour. Moreover, the orb-like “GoFast” UAP would potentially move even more rapidly if a key figure pertaining to range is incorrect, as current and former aviators deem likely.

Hopefully, by drawing on NASA’s deep scientific expertise, the mystery of the “metallic orbs” observed globally can be resolved satisfactorily.”

An interesting development was reported in Christopher Sharp’s latest article for Liberation Times, a NASA spokesperson declaring:

“It’s important to recognize that the UAP team is a group of external experts who are independent from NASA.”[...] “The team did not have access to the raw sensor data nor did they speak with the aviators who witnessed it. The analysis from our team was based purely on information in the publicly released video.”

In the following Q&A, Mike Gold made an interesting comment:

“I’ve been a part of far too many panels and studies that end up sitting on the shelf. I don’t want this to be one of those exercises. And we can discuss this further. But I would call for and recommend a permanent office within NASA to support this activity, I’ll be likely a modest one. 

Let’s collate this information, collate that data, to archive the information and act as the open forward-facing counterpart to Sean and AARO. I think then we could continue and actually accomplish the reporting, the stigma issues that have been raised, and we could do so in a relatively affordable fashion. Because again, I don’t want all of our work to end up being in vain.”

Photo by Lucas Pezeta

Questions and Answers

Afterward, Jen Buss, CEO of the Potomac Institute of Policy Studies Buss readed her statement, supposed to answer each of the 8 questions that were proposed by the public and selected by NASA. Here are the full questions and a selection of answers from the panel:

1- What types of scientific data currently collected and archived by NASA or other civilian government entities should be synthesized and analyzed to potentially shed light on the nature and origins of Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP)?

“The panel reviewed data sources, analytic tools, data architectures from NASA, NOAA, FAA, commerce and others. The data that we recognize were not collected for the purpose of identifying UAP, which leaves bias in the data that was collected. Even though there is an immense amount of data available, it is hard to access and the sensors that were used were not well calibrated for identifying anomalous phenomena.”

2- What types of scientific data currently collected and held by non-profits and companies should be synthesized and analyzed to potentially shed light on the nature and origins of UAP?

“Many organizations exist to track sightings of anomalous phenomena in the Earth’s atmosphere, both nonprofit, for-profit and otherwise, the study panel concluded that much of the inputs collected by these organizations are not considered scientific data in nature and that they do not contain unbiased information. They’re not repeatable.“

3- What other types of scientific data should be collected by NASA to enhance the potential for developing an understanding of the nature and origins of UAP?

The panel answered by listing some ideas, like satellite companies and long-term observation campaigns, but said it struggled to solve the problem of data collection uniformity when research used already existing platforms alongside artificial intelligence. 

4- Which scientific analysis techniques currently in production could be employed to assess the nature and origins of UAP?  Which types of analysis techniques should be developed?

"[...]There are very few credible analysis techniques available that currently exist to assess the nature and origins of UAP.”

5- In considering the factors above, what basic physical constraints can be placed on the nature and origins of UAP?

Jen Buss refers here to Dr.Kirkpatrick’s slide, shown earlier, and Joshua Semeter’s analysis of the apparent speed of the object filmed in the Go Fast video. 

6- What civilian airspace data related to UAPs have been collected by government agencies are available for analysis to a) inform efforts to better understand the nature and origins of UAPs, and b) determine the risk of UAPs to the National Air Space (NAS)?

Jen Buss referred to Mike Freied’s presentation; she added, regarding the risk assessment:

“Something that we don’t know could have a severe impact on pilots and their flight plan and all of that, which then could really wreak havoc on all of the United States airspace. And so being able to understand and identify what those are phenomena are, will help de-risk the air flight safety in the national airspace.”

7- What current reporting protocols and air traffic management (ATM) data acquisition systems can be modified to acquire additional data on past and future UAPs?

Buss referred yet again to Freied’s presentation about the FAA’s UAP report protocol for ATC. 

8- What potential enhancements to future ATM development efforts can be recommended to acquire data concerning future reported UAPs to assist in the effort to better understand the nature and origin of the UAPs?

“The potential enhancements, automatic filtering of the knowns has come up as a talking point. These are specific really to acquiring data, the tuning of those sensor platforms, the multimodal spectrum collection, and being able to kind of timestamp or geo stamp each of those to corroborate the sightings. “


David Spergel then began the panel discussion on UAP study. Mrs. Shelley-Wright noted that she sees “a really big issue with framerate. So if you want to catch fast-moving objects, you need to take quick images. If you want to get to these very small sizes and resolutions depending on altitude, where you are actually taking your image from ground or space, NASA will likely have to increase its framerate into its detectors.” Walter Scott adds that “NASA’s current assets would be able to see would be really big haystacks that are moving very slowly”.

Public Questions

The meeting then switched to the public session:

Q: Do we have multisensor data or have objects performing maneuvers that seem truly anomalous? Do we have photos, videos?
A: David Spergel answered that the role of UAPIST was to create a roadmap, that they’ve been informed of some events, but that they've “certainly not done a complete historical study in an archive.”

Q: Has NASA ever cut the live NASA TV feed away from something? 
A: Dan Evans answered: “To my knowledge, NASA has never intentionally cut a live feed to hide anything. And that includes UAPs. Of course, sometimes there are interruptions to our feeds. But that is simply because space is a complex place.”
A: Scott Kelly adds: “In my experience of being in the Astronaut Office for 20 years, there was never any formal or informal discussions at all about UAPs or UFOs, or anyone reporting anything that would suggest something from, you know, beyond our planet. “
A: David Grinspoon concludes: “ I just want to emphasize that there’s no way that all scientists could be in on,  on trying to hide something because it’s just not in our nature. Somebody told me to try to hide something as a scientist that would just increase my desire to delay that order, and to release it. “

Q: Are we also studying bodies of water for UAP?
A: Paula Bontempi: “I think Dr. Kirkpatrick stated this morning, that to his knowledge, and I think to ours there, there isn’t anything that’s been reported below the ocean surface.”

Q: What are you doing to solve the stigmatization surrounding the study of UAP?
A: Karlin Toner: “I think the fact that NASA has called us together here as a panel to look into this, that NASA is hosting a public meeting that we’ve heard, right, it clearly stated: 'We’re here to be transparent'. I think that’s the first step in trying to really normalize the study of UAPs. And I, you know, we talked a little bit earlier about the reporting about how to make it credible.”
A: Mike Gold: “ I think NASA can leverage its excellent reputation, both domestically and abroad. To help push back on that stigma. I think it’s important to do so not just for science and discovery, but for national security, that we’ve all seen what’s occurred with balloons from rival nations. We don’t want this stigma to be a vulnerability that rival nations can take advantage of.”
A: Daniel Evans: “That involves collaborating across the government, encouraging an open dialogue and promoting rigorous scientific inquiry. Let me turn to each of those in turn. So in terms of promoting a rigorous scientific inquiry, the primary way we’re doing this is by being truly rigorous, and employing an evidence based methodology in everything that we do. [...] So that is, in turn going to help us to legitimize UAP studies.”

Q: Who are we working with?
A: Jen Buss : “The core principles of NASA are with international partners. So the information that our partners are gathering is typically available to NASA as well.” 
A: Federica Bianco: “NSF, DOD and NASA to work together, share data, share facilities and instruments.”
A: Dan Evans : “As a taxpayer, one should expect nothing less than the government to be working effectively across different units together, it’s only right. That being said, it’s also important to acknowledge what NASA’s perspective is, in this study, and to acknowledge that the  Department of Defense, and Intelligence Community have massively different equities about the study of UAP. And they have different interests. Ours is a purely scientific one.” 

Q: Is there evidence that UAP were created from non-human intelligence? 
A: Anamaria Berea: “We cannot make that kind of extraordinary claims at all, for any kind of big subjects in science, whether it’s UAPs, whether it’s biosignatures, whether it’s technosignatures, this question of whether we are alone in the universe is probably one of the largest questions that we’ve had in our history of science in our history of humanity.”
A: David Spergel: “I want to sort of supplement that excellent answer by noting that we have not seen the extraordinary evidence, right?”

Q: “How large of a budget will NASA allocate towards the study of UAPs?”
A: Dan Evans: “The budget for this independent study team is very consistent with any other of our external review groups that we bring into the Science Mission Directorate on an annual basis. [...] Going forward now that NASA has not established a program relative to UAP. The way NASA, particularly NASA Science likes to work is we anticipate and wait for recommendations from independent groups such as this one. And we need to wait on the final recommendations, and then we’ll make an assessment. So too early to say.”

Q: What would NASA do if extraterrestrial life was discovered?
A: David Grinspoon: “A big event, actually, in the history of astrobiology was in the 1990s when some scientists had thought that they had discovered fossils in a meteorite that came from Mars. And what happens is, you don’t announce it immediately, you make sure that you try to make sure you’re right, because you also don’t want to have false alarms and announce something, and then you go, oops, sorry, we were wrong. That was a mistaken analysis. But what happened was, when the scientists were sure they were right, then there was a big, in fact, presidential press conference with President Clinton and NASA. And it was a big public announcement. And that’s what would happen.”

Chairman's Words

David Spergel concluded: 

  • “The AARO is [NASA’s] lead agency for UAPs [...] the AARO’s role is to be the prime source for understanding those things.”
  • “NASA can help remove the stigma, NASA can draw more of the scientific community in.”
  • “What NASA can help do, is provide standards of high data quality.” 
  • “This group was struck by the limited nature of the data, that many events had insufficient data.  And that in order to get a better understanding, we will need to have high-quality data data.”
  • “NASA, I think, has the prestige and visibility to develop an app or work with companies to develop apps that could collect data in a uniform and centralized way.”
  • “Another important piece is always going to be characterizing the known really well. And, you know, this is the part I think of a lot of science that seems dry and boring. But it’s calibration and understanding the events you expect to see.”

The Other Meeting

The conference followed with a one-hour media teleconference. Here are some interesting answers given by UAPIST and NASA, edited for ease of reading. 

Q: I’m just very curious as to whether you’ve discussed what to do if you actually do discover that UAPs are extraterrestrial?
A: Spergel: “Fascinating question but not one that was in our charge.” 
A: Grinspoon: “And there’s pretty much complete consensus in that community that what we do is share that knowledge with the world.”

Q: And also, why not just call these UFOs?
A: Evans: “I think because of the stigma associated with UFOs. This is a serious business. I think many experts have told us about the potential risks to U.S. airspace safety.”

Q: What would the possible roadblocks be on the roadmap?
A: Spergel: “We have a community of people who are completely convinced of the existence of UFOs. And we have a community of people who think addressing this question is ridiculous. Because you have UFOs, you know, everything can be explained. And so to me, that’s the greatest roadblock we are faced with here.”

Q: When you say there are events that, you know, after you’ve ruled out things that are obvious that there are some events that simply can’t be understood at this point? What does that actually mean? 
A: Bianco: “It just cannot be said with the current data. It’s very possible that with better data that will be reconciled with a known phenomenon.”

Q: Can you tell us more about the online harassment that you receive? 
A:  Evans: “I won’t get into specifics, I will point out that if you were watching the NASA YouTube feed this afternoon, and looking at the live chat that’s on the side of that panel, then you can sort of see some of the online trolling. That just is, that’s really the tip of the iceberg.”

Q: So do you think that NASA should consider the study and analysis of UAP as a way of looking for evidence of life beyond Earth? 
A: Grinspoon “if the data leads us to realize that it does have something to do with extraterrestrial life, of course, we’ll be enthralled and fascinated by that and will want to pursue it. But at this point, we don’t really have any explicit data that suggests to us that there’s a connection between UAPs and extraterrestrial life.”

Q: The online chat for the live stream was close to at least on YouTube. So I was wondering if you could just be a little more explicit about the type of harassment.
A: Bontempi: “one of the really interesting accounts that we did get first person was by somebody who was a pilot who had witnessed an anomalous event and reported it. And the one thing that that person said was how many people would contact that person and just want to give their account of what they had experienced? This goes to the stigma of reporting, these were people that had a story to tell and didn’t know where to tell it or didn’t feel safe telling it.” 

Q: To what extent can such an unpredictable and ephemeral phenomenon such as UAP truly fit into a scientific framework, given we can’t predict when or where UAP will appear?
A: Spergel: “So this is one where in the discussions I talked about Fast Radio Bursts (FRB). This is something we’re actually used to in astronomy, some of the most interesting things are bursts that go off at unpredictable times and unpredictable locations.” 

Q: Who is the new NASA Science Advisor that’s embedding in AARO?
A: Evans: “Yes, so we are shortly to send over a liaison officer to the Department of Defense, their domain anomaly resolution office. This is Mark McInerney. He’s sitting in the audience. He is a tremendous expert on large-scale curation of data.”

Q: Is that term UAP, could it have nothing to do with a possibility of other star folk visiting here?
A: Mike Gold: “What we’re trying to do with this group, is to be agnostic, to be objective, and to look at this issue, purely from a scientific perspective, without bias. So I believe that was the intent. Whether or not it’s been successful is up to you. But I think it was a valuable intent.”

Q: My question, with regard to the whole transparency issue, is why is it that the NASA Astrobiology website, the NASA Citizen Science website, and the NASA Education website all make no mention of this committee or the meeting today? Or the topic under discussion? How can you really do this with a straight and straight face if you really don’t want to just connect the obvious public interest with the program? Astrobiology has been set up to look for life in the universe.
A: Evans: “I want to emphasize this loud and proud that there is absolutely no convincing evidence for extraterrestrial life or associated with UAPs, anything like that.“

Q: Julian Barnes:  Do you have any other plans to do similar explanations of the other Pentagon videos that might explain why they could be optical illusions or things like that?
A: Dr Kirkpatrick: "That is ultimately our goal at AARO is that we are going to do that level of analytics, that level of scientific deconvolution of all of these cases as we get them and we can work through them with the scientific community with the intelligence community, reduce those to digestible forms that we can then declassify and put out on the website for people to look at along with all of the associated analysis."

Q: So the recommendations are not going to come until the end of July. Or you’re not going to get anything into the FY 24 budget for the following work?  And Dr. Evans, are you going to lead the collaboration, any collaboration with the UK space agency?
A: Evans: "We have a lengthy budget process. Right now, this agency is going through internal preparations for the FY 25 budget request. To your question about involvement with the UK space agency. No, we have not had any, although, as Dr. Kirkpatrick said, we had a brief meeting last week with the Five Eyes that I sat in on more as a fly on the wall than anything acknowledging again."

Q: I think I heard you say the FAA might make it mandatory for pilots to make reports about UAP. Did I hear you correctly on those?
A: Toner: "I believe similarly, the FAA does not mandate pilots to report but there is a volunteer reporting system and I have Warren clarify that."
A: Randolph: "There are no plans and there are no requirements for required UAP reporting."

Main Picture: Pixabay

Baptiste Friscourt

Born in 1986, this certified visual arts teacher started looking for reliable information on UAP in 2017 at the request of his students. Since then, he's been covering UAP research in France for The Debrief while vulgarizing international content on a demonetized platform of his own which was named Explorer Lab. After serving as Editor-in-Chief of UAP Check News between February 2023 and January 2024, he is currently editor-in-chief of Sentinel News.