NASA Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Team Report: September 14 Media Briefing

On September 14, NASA conducted a media briefing to elaborate on the findings of its Independent Study Team focused on Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP). The team was set up in 2022 to guide future investigations aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of UAPs, an area currently understudied due to limited high-quality scientific data.

High-profile figures from both NASA and the broader scientific community were present at the briefing, including NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson, Nicola Fox, the Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Dan Evans, the Assistant Deputy Associate Administrator for Research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, and David Spergel, President of the Simons Foundation and Chair of NASA’s UAP Independent Study Team.

This interdisciplinary Independent Study Team of 16 experts aims to formulate a scientific approach to studying UAP phenomena. NASA initiated the nine-month study to develop a roadmap that addresses the current gaps in high-quality observational data and allows for more rigorous scientific conclusions about UAPs.

Interestingly, while NASA emphasized the importance of transparency during the briefing, they disabled the comments section for the video on their official YouTube channel. This action raises questions about NASA’s willingness to engage in open public discourse on this complex and often contentious subject.

For those interested in learning more, the full report and additional information about the study team are available on NASA’s official website.

The first question during the media briefing was asked by James Fox, a notable figure in the field of UAP and UFO research. Fox is best known for his documentary films such as “Out of the Blue” (2003), “I Know What I Saw” (2009), and “The Phenomenon” (2020). These films have been lauded for their rigorous investigative approach, featuring interviews with credible witnesses and officials, and have significantly contributed to the serious discourse on unidentified phenomena. Fox’s body of work often aims to spotlight gaps in our current understanding and advocates for a more methodical, scientific inquiry into these mysterious occurrences.

Despite Fox’s substantial contributions to the field, it was startling to note that no one on the panel recognized him. This lack of recognition raises concerns about the panel’s preparedness and depth of expertise in the subject matter they are tasked with studying. If the panel members are not even familiar with a key researcher like James Fox, who has devoted a significant portion of his career to exploring UAP phenomena through comprehensive documentary work, it casts doubt on their ability to effectively identify and analyze the complexities of UAPs. This gap in awareness could lead observers to question how well-equipped the panel actually is to carry out the rigorous scientific investigation required to advance our understanding of this field.

The members of NASA’s Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Team are a diverse group of experts, each contributing unique skills and perspectives. With backgrounds in academia, government, journalism, and the private sector, their collective expertise spans fields like aerospace engineering, planetary science, astrophysics, public policy, and aviation. For example, Dr. Anamaria Berea from George Mason University and Dr. Federica Bianco from the University of Delaware bring an academic perspective, potentially providing rigorous scientific methodologies to the study. Dr. Reggie Brothers of AE Industrial Partners and Mr. Mike Gold from Redwire Space offer insights from the industry, complementing the academic viewpoints with practical considerations.

Dr. Paula Bontempi from the University of Rhode Island, Dr. Jennifer Buss from the Potomac Institute of Policy Studies, and Dr. Matt Mountain from the Association of Universities for Research and Astronomy provide policy and research expertise. Dr. Nadia Drake, a science journalist, can help in communicating the team’s findings effectively to the public. Adding a hands-on space experience is Capt. Scott Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut. Federal agency representatives like Mr. Warren Randolph and Dr. Karlin Toner from the Federal Aviation Administration bring regulatory perspectives, while Dr. Walter Scott of Maxar Technologies and Dr. Joshua Semeter from Boston University add technology and data science expertise. Finally, Dr. Shelley Wright from the University of California, San Diego, offers additional academic rigor. In theory, this multi-disciplinary team is well-equipped to provide a comprehensive and credible study of unidentified anomalous phenomena.

Despite the diverse expertise and significant qualifications of the members of NASA’s Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Team, none are known for having personal experiences with paranormal activity, UFO sightings, or abductions. Their backgrounds are rooted in academic research, aerospace engineering, planetary science, public policy, and other related disciplines, rather than in the study of the unexplained or paranormal. While their collective skill set makes them well-suited to undertake a rigorous, scientific investigation into unidentified anomalous phenomena, it’s important to note that their qualifications come from their professional and academic credentials, rather than personal experiences with the subjects they are investigating.

The placement of the discussion about red sprites on the second page of the report could indicate the team’s inclination toward conventional scientific phenomena rather than truly unexplained or anomalous events.

The report’s assertion that NASA is in an “excellent position to contribute to UAP studies within the broader whole-of-government framework” could be met with skepticism given that NASA has been in existence since 1958 (not 1933, which is often associated with modern UAP sightings stemming from the famous Kenneth Arnold case). Despite decades of advancements in aerospace and observational technologies, NASA has not been prominently involved in publicly releasing reports or findings related to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) or UFOs. This long timespan without substantial public contribution to the field may lead some to question the agency’s willingness or ability to effectively study UAPs now. The contrast between the report’s optimistic statement and NASA’s historical lack of public engagement on the topic could generate doubt about the agency’s actual capability or commitment to contribute meaningfully to the study of UAPs or other anomalous phenomena.

The inclusion of a discussion about the aurora borealis, or “northern lights,” over Canada on page 6 of the report might be noteworthy. While the aurora borealis is a captivating yet well-understood natural phenomenon, its mention in a report ostensibly focused on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) could be seen as diverting from the core subject matter. This reference to a well-documented occurrence like the aurora borealis could lead some to question the team’s focus and ability to concentrate on the less understood, more enigmatic aspects such as UAPs or other mysterious phenomena. The placement of such content in the report may suggest an orientation toward conventional scientific explanations rather than a deep exploration into the truly unexplained.

The mention of a meteor streaking across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower on page 8 of the report could be seen as another example of the team focusing on well-understood, natural phenomena. While the Perseid meteor shower is a fascinating but scientifically explained event, its inclusion in a report that is supposed to address Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) might raise questions about the team’s priorities. The presence of such well-documented natural occurrences in the report might lead some to wonder whether the team is adequately prepared to investigate the more mysterious and unexplained phenomena that fall under the umbrella of UAPs.

The inclusion of a photo of a weather balloon on page 10 of the report, accompanied by a description of its release from the Cape Canaveral weather station in Florida, may raise eyebrows. While weather balloons are common and well-understood tools for atmospheric research, featuring such an item in a report focused on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) could be interpreted as a diversion from the main topic. The presence of such scientifically straightforward subjects within the report could lead some to question the team’s focus and capability to investigate the genuinely mysterious and unexplained phenomena that are presumably the core subject of their inquiry.

NASA’s array of Earth-monitoring satellites gather extensive data on Earth’s systems, but generally, they do not have the spatial resolution required to identify smaller objects like Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs).

The report suggests that while NASA’s Earth-observing satellites may not be well-suited for detecting small objects like Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), other civilian technologies could fill this gap effectively. Specifically mentioned are the NEXRAD Doppler radar network and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES).

The NEXRAD Doppler radar network consists of 160 weather radars that are jointly operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Air Force, and National Weather Service. These radars are designed to detect meteorological phenomena but could also be repurposed or employed to track smaller, faster-moving objects like UAPs.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) are another asset that could be useful in UAP detection. While traditionally used for weather monitoring and environmental data collection, their capabilities could be extended or adapted for tracking unexplained aerial phenomena.

By using these existing technologies, investigators could potentially separate ‘interesting’ objects, which may warrant further study as potential UAPs, from ‘airborne clutter’ like birds, conventional aircraft, or weather balloons. This would enable more focused and efficient studies of phenomena that are truly unidentified or unexplained.

NASA claims to have significant expertise in the use of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which is capable of producing high-resolution angular images of the Earth and tracking surface movements. The panel specifically highlights the potential of upcoming SAR-based Earth-observing satellites like NISAR, a collaborative mission with the Indian Space Research Organization. NISAR’s advanced resolution is expected to offer valuable radar data, which could be instrumental for directly studying Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) as well as understanding their environmental context. Moreover, SAR technologies can validate any truly extraordinary characteristics of UAPs, such as sudden acceleration or high-G maneuvers, by analyzing the Doppler signatures these phenomena produce.

A photograph featured on a page 20 of the report shows von Karman vortices captured by NASA’s Space Shuttle STS-100. These vortices are naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena seen near Rishiri-to Island in Japan. They are formed when a stable, low-cloud atmosphere passes over a tall obstacle, leading to the creation of these distinctive swirls in the clouds. The inclusion of such an image could be another example of the report’s focus on well-understood natural phenomena, perhaps diverting attention from its main subject of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.

The report’s statement indicates that there’s no confirmed evidence in reputable scientific publications to suggest that UAPs come from outside Earth. The term “extraterrestrial origin” specifically refers to the notion that these phenomena might be originating from locations beyond Earth, potentially implicating alien life forms or technologies. However, the language can be seen as carefully chosen or even evasive. If these objects are indeed real and not originating from any known Earth-based sources, then their origin remains an open question—one that the report doesn’t seem to directly address.

This report provided no new photographs of UAP and really is a great demonstration of how far these scientists are out of touch.