NASA Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Study
Frequently Asked Questions
- Will NASA be referring to UAP as Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena?
To be consistent with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), NASA will be calling UAP “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena” instead of “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena”. NASA’s UAP independent study will be largely focused on aerial phenomena.
- Why is NASA involved with studying UAP?
Exploring the unknown in space and the atmosphere is at the heart of who we are. The nature of science is to better understand the unknown – but the language of scientists is data. The limited number of high-quality observations of unidentified anomalous phenomena, or UAP, currently makes it impossible to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of such events. 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 shed light on UAP. NASA is commissioning the UAP Independent Study Team to examine unidentified anomalous phenomena from a scientific perspective – with a focus on how NASA can use data and the tools of science to move our understanding forward.
- When will the independent study’s report be released to the public?
The report will be released in mid-2023.
- What will the independent study's report cover when it is released to the public?
The UAP independent study team’s main focus for the report is to come up with a way in which to evaluate and study UAPs going forward by using data, technology and the tools of science. It is not a review of previous UAP incidents. The report will be published with the intent to inform NASA on what possible data could be collected in the future, and how it can be collected, to shed light on UAP.
- Will this be a National Academies study?
No, this will not be an academy study.
- What is the difference between an independent study versus an independent review board?
NASA established the Independent Study as a means to securing the counsel of community experts across diverse areas on matters relevant to potential methods of study for unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP). The UAP Independent Study serves as a community-based, interdisciplinary forum for soliciting and coordinating community analysis and input and providing advice.
This nine-month study does not involve an independent review board. NASA uses independent reviews for early-stage strategic missions to put these important and complex science missions on the path to success.
- Can the public and media view the Independent Study Meetings?
NASA expects to hold a full public meeting of the UAP Independent Study Team in late spring/early summer 2023. The meeting will be broadcast to the public.
- What can the public expect to see after the report is released?
A full report will be released to the public in conjunction with NASA’s principles of openness, transparency, and scientific integrity. After the report is released, NASA will hold a public meeting to discuss the study’s findings. NASA is going in with an open mind and we expect to find that explanations will apply to some events and different explanations will apply to others. We will not underestimate what the natural world contains, and we believe there is a lot to learn. Data is the language of scientists, so we are excited to see what the independent study team discovers.
- Is NASA conducting this study to support the Department of Defense’s recently established All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office?
NASA is pursuing this study for the agency’s own science and air safety purposes. However, the results of NASA’s independent study will be publicly available for use. NASA has, additionally, coordinated widely across the government regarding how to apply the tools of science to shed light on the nature and origin of UAP.
- How were the independent study team members selected?
Our UAP Independent Study Team is made up of some of the world’s leading scientists, data and artificial intelligence practitioners, aerospace safety experts, all with a specific charge, which is to tell us how to apply the full focus of science and data to UAP.
Our independent study members are all active in the UAP community and will continue to be in accordance with FACA committee rules and regulations. All members successfully submitted financial disclosures and had a comprehensive government ethics briefing to be apart of the study team. Each member of the team was appointed in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which is the gold standard to ensure independent and objective advice.
Possessing a security clearance was not a requirement as the team is only studying unclassified data.
All members are now either special government employees or regular government employees who are subject to government ethics rules, which NASA takes very seriously.
- Who will participate in the Independent Study? What will it do?
NASA has selected 16 individuals to participate in its independent study team on unidentified anomalous phenomena. They are experts in the scientific, aeronautics, and data analytics communities.. This independent study team is led by astrophysicist David Spergel, who is president of the Simons Foundation in New York City, and previously the chair of the astrophysics department at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. Daniel Evans, the assistant deputy associate administrator for research at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, serves as the NASA official responsible for orchestrating the study.
The team will meet periodically to identify what data – from civilian government entities, commercial data and data from other sources can potentially be analyzed to shed light on unidentified anomalous phenomena. These meetings are designed for the study team to prepare and gather facts from relevant experts. The study team will then recommend a roadmap for potential future NASA unidentified anomalous data analyses. The study is planned to take nine months. Afterward, the information will be released in a publicly available report. NASA expects to hold a full public meeting of the UAP Independent Study Team in late spring/early summer 2023. The meeting will be broadcast to the public.
- Why is the independent study team sixteen members?
NASA brought together leading minds to help bring a scientific perspective to the nature of unidentified anomalous phenomena so we can best understand and utilize the data and learn how to apply it to UAP. Data is the language of scientists and NASA wants to ensure a 360-degree understanding from a multitude of perspectives.
- What parts of NASA are supporting the independent study?
The independent study is run by sixteen members, under the guidance of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. This study is not related to any NASA flight missions or other NASA programs.
- Are there any data supporting the idea that UAP are evidence of alien technologies?
No. Most UAP sightings result in very limited data, making it difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of UAP.
- Is there a possibility of life beyond Earth? Is NASA involved in the search for extraterrestrial life?
One of NASA’s key priorities is the search for life elsewhere in the universe: NASA has not found any credible evidence of extraterrestrial life and there is no evidence that UAPs are extraterrestrial. However, NASA is exploring the solar system and beyond to help us answer fundamental questions, including whether we are alone in the universe.
- What are technosignatures? Does NASA fund technosignature research?
One of NASA’s key priorities is the search for life elsewhere in the universe: NASA has not found any credible evidence of extraterrestrial life, and there is no evidence that UAPs are extraterrestrial. However, NASA is exploring the solar system and beyond to help us answer fundamental questions, including whether we are alone in the universe.
Technosignatures are a specific type of biosignature, which is defined as any detectable sign of extant or extinct life. Technosignatures are sign of technology that we can use to infer the existence of an advanced civilization elsewhere in the universe, including large orbiting structures, atmospheric pollution, narrow-band radio signals or pulsed lasers. The term SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) often is used synonymously with the search for technosignatures.
NASA efforts include search for biosignatures (signs of biology) and technosignatures (signs of technology), as long as it is space-based, not ground-based, research.
Given that a planet might support life for billions of years before intelligent life evolves to create technology that can be spotted from other solar systems – our own planet has only been creating detectable technosignatures for a little over a century, for example – we have a much better chance of finding life by looking at a broad spectrum of biosignatures.
- Does NASA have a budget or any associated funding for this UAP study?
The budget for this study is consistent with any of the other external review groups that the Science Mission Directorate convenes each year through its Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES) calls. NASA has not established a program to search for UAP, so there is no associated programmatic funding.
For more information on ROSES, visit: https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/grant-solicitations
- What has NASA funded so far in the search for extraterrestrial life or UAP?
To date, NASA has funded uncountable numbers of exoplanet and biosignatures research missions and grants. We welcome solicitations for, and currently fund a handful of technosignatures science grants. We have funded two “Technoclimes” workshops to develop a research agenda for searching for technosignatures.
NASA does not actively search for UAP. However, through our Earth-observing satellites, NASA collects extensive data about Earth’s atmosphere, often in collaboration with the other space agencies of the world. While these data are not specifically collected to identify UAP or alien technosignatures, they are publicly available, and anyone may use them.