On June 10, the space agency announced that it was building an independent team of experts to understand how much information is publicly available on the subject and how much more is needed to understand the unexplained sightings.
NASA science mission chief Thomas Zurbuchen acknowledged that the traditional scientific community may view NASA as “kind of a sellout” by delving into a controversial topic, but he strongly disagrees.
“We don’t shy away from reputational risk,” Zurbuchen said during a webcast from the National Academy of Sciences.
“We strongly believe that the biggest problem with these phenomena is that this is a data-poor area.”
NASA considers this the first step in an attempt to explain mysterious sightings in the sky, also called Unidentified Air Phenomena (UAPS).
The study, worth no more than $100,000, will begin this year and last nine months. It will be completely open, without the use of secret military data.
NASA said the team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation for the Advancement of Science.
At a press conference, Spergel said the only preconceived notion going into the study is that the UFO is likely to have multiple explanations.
“We have to approach all these issues with a sense of humility,” Spergel said. “I have spent most of my career as a cosmologist. I can tell you that we don’t know what makes up 95 percent of the universe. So there are things we don’t understand.”