Nasa's 16-member panel to hold first-ever meeting on UFOs

It would be first inquiry under Nasa over UFOs which government considered exclusive and secretive purview of military

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The Nasa building can be seen in this picture. — Reuters/File
The Nasa building can be seen in this picture. — Reuters/File

Nasa is set to hold its 16-member panel’s first meeting on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) or UFOs Wednesday, said the US space agency, with a report likely to be put forth in weeks to come, reported Reuters.

The panel was formed last year which includes experts from physics to astrobiology to observe the unclassified UFO sightings and other data collected from civilian government and commercial sectors.

According to Nasa, the focus of Wednesday's four-hour public session "is to hold final deliberations before the agency's independent study team publishes a report this summer."

It would be the first inquiry of its kind under the ambit of Nasa over the phenomena which the government considered the exclusive and secretive purview of the military and national security officials.

This study is separate from a newly formalised Pentagon-based investigation of UAPs, documented in recent years by military aviators and analysed by US defence and intelligence officials.

The efforts of Nasa and the Pentagon highlight a shift for the government officials who, for decades, deflected and debunked the sightings of such objects which date back to the 1940s.

UFO was earlier associated with flying saucers and aliens, but now has been replaced in government language by "UAP."

While NASA's science mission was seen by some as promising a more open-minded approach to a topic long treated as taboo by the defence establishment, it made it known from the start that it was hardly leaping to any conclusions.

"There is no evidence UAPs are extraterrestrial in origin," NASA said in announcing the panel's formation last June.

In its more recent statements, Nasa presented a new potential wrinkle to the UAP acronym itself, referring to it as an abbreviation for "unidentified anomalous phenomena." This suggested that sightings other than those that appeared airborne may be included.

Still, Nasa said Wednesday that it defines UAPs "as observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective."

US defence officials have said the "Pentagon's recent push to investigate such sightings has led to hundreds of new reports that are under examination, though most remain categorised as unexplained."

The head of the Pentagon's newly formed All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) has said the "existence of intelligent alien life has not been ruled out but that no sighting had produced evidence of extraterrestrial origins."