NASA held a public meeting at 10:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, May 31, 2023, of its independent study team on categorizing and evaluating data of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP). The event was followed by a media telecast, where the media was able to ask questions. This is an archive of that media teleconference.
The transcript was created by The Black Vault with the help/assistance of AI. Then, manually, the names were matched up with the speakers, and a rough pass over the transcript was done, but it is far from perfect. However, the intent is to have some kind of a guide to the meeting that can be searched. For any corrections, feel free to CONTACT with changes.
Karen Fox 00:12
Oh, everybody and welcome to this a media telecon after our independent study on UAP, that’s an identified anomalous phenomena. We hope you weren’t. If you’re here for the media that you had the opportunity to watch the public broadcast today, we will have a link for that up shortly, you can go back and look at it. We will be focusing today mostly on q&a. We’re not going back over all the things we discussed today. So we will be leaving the most time we can for immediate ask questions. I am Karen Fox, with NASA’s Office of Communications. And we will start with just a couple of minutes of introductory remarks. And then we will go quickly into the q&a, a warning for you. If you did not have the opportunity to watch the broadcast. today. We have many people here today, we’re going to try very hard to be good about making sure each person says their name ahead of time, you should feel free to write us in the opposite communications. If for some reason you missed the name, but we will do our best to get you all the names as we go. Once we do questions, you will be invited to press star one to get in the queue. To ask a question. Without further ado, I will toss to two of our panelists, Dan Evans and David Spergel. Each one is going to give just a couple of minutes overview of what this independent study is about and what we’ve accomplished today. And then we’ll move right into our q&a portion.
Dan Evans 01:51
Thanks very much, Karen. So something I mentioned this morning, but I’d like to re iterate this afternoon is that this subject of on identify anomalous phenomena UAPs, if you will, has truly captured the attention of the public of the scientific community. And nowadays, the US government as well. And we at NASA strongly believe that it’s our responsibility, all working together to investigate these occurrences, and to provide the sort of rigorous scientific scrutiny that NASA is well known for our boss, the NASA administrator, Senator Bill Nelson, truly believes that studying UAPs is incredibly important, not least because it provides an opportunity for us to expand our understanding of the world around us. And given NASA’s roots in exploration. As I said, this morning, this work is in our DNA. Secondly, we are approaching this study, highly cognizant of the fact that there is a situational awareness aspect. The presence of UAPs undoubtedly raises concerns about the safety of our skies. And it’s our responsibility, again, working together to investigate whether those anomalies, those phenomenas pose any risks to SP safety. What we’re doing now is we have brought together this team of 16 experts, all of whom are absolutely top notch experts in their respective fields, and pull them together in a highly interdisciplinary approach. We’ve tasked them with helping NASA produce a roadmap, a roadmap that doesn’t necessarily look back at previous grainy footage sort of acknowledges that many UAPs historically, we’ll never be able to get to the bottom of because the data are of such poor quality. So we’re trying to assess whether those phenomena pose any risks to SB safety. And we’re doing it using science. NASA believes that the tools of science apply to the study of UAP because they allow us to separate fact from fiction. And that’s all part of NASA’s commitment to exploring the unknown. And doing so with the openness, transparency and candor that were well accustomed to providing the public. I’ll pass it over to David.
David Spergel 04:35
Thanks, Dan. So as Dan noted, our goal here is to provide a roadmap for how NASA can contribute to understanding and in doing so, you know, mindful of the AR O’s role as leading the whole of government UAP effort. But NASA has some really unique capabilities. It is the civilian agency and as its data is open It handles things in a transparent manner. And as such, I think is the best suited to interact with both the citizen scientists and scientists, professional scientists engage with us. We’ve gone through a data collection stage, which is continued with the our hearing today. And I think what we’ve seen is that many events have conventional explanations. We saw more of this today that many of these events are commercial aircraft, civilian and military drones, whether in research balloons, military equipment, weather phenomena ionospheric phenomenon. That said, we there are remain events that we do not understand. But these events tend to be characterized by poor quality and limited data. And I think one of the lessons we’ve drawn is the need for more high quality data and data that is, well caliber measured with well calibrated instruments, multiple observations, and that there’s a need for high quality data curation. In order to assess these events. Where we have not yet made our recommendations, we’re still at the stage of developing our report. So we just were everything we say now represents really preliminary observations, our report will be out, we hope by the end of July. And that report will be fully open. And you know, it’s really only at that stage that we can, we will have consensus recommendations that we will be presenting to NASA. And these will be a report that we will send through the Earth Science Advisory Board, which will pass it on to NASA Headquarters.
Karen Fox 07:06
All right. Thank you so much. As I mentioned, we will move on to the q&a portion of this.
And to ask a question, please press star one,
Karen Fox 07:18
star one. And I’ll remind our panelists to say your name first when you when you answer. And our first question is going to be from Steve Crabtree of BBC, please.
Steve Crabtree 07:32
Hello, can everyone hear me okay? Yeah. Fantastic. I should start just by saying, Dan can tell from your accent that you’re from the UK. So I began my career at the BBC on Tomorrow’s World. I currently look after the sky at night, and I was the editor of horizon for five years. So the chances are, you probably appeared in one of my programs. And David Speigel. David, I did a presentation for the Simons foundation last year about science and science fiction, which my friend is a modern who organized. My question is very television law, I’m afraid. But it’s very straightforward, which is, I’m just very curious as to whether you’ve discussed what to do, if you actually do discover that UAPs are extraterrestrial, because that would suggest an advanced technology. And we know clearly what what happens certainly on the earth when a when an advanced civilization meets a less advanced civilization. So I’m just curious as to whether that has been discussed as a group with everyone on the panel that has done this brilliant presentation this afternoon.
David Spergel 08:46
That was actually not I mean, that’s a fascinating question. I think one or probably many of us have speculated about, but not one that was in our charge.
Karen Fox 08:56
So that was David Spergel speaking and we’re gonna go to David Grinspoon, next.
David Grinspoon 09:01
Oh, yeah, again, as as David mentioned, this is David Grinspoon. It’s not something we’ve spent time thinking about too much as a panel, because it’s not really in our in our remit. But you know, in the astrobiology community, I can tell you that, of course, it comes up a lot. What happens if we’re successful and even more specifically, not just with finding extraterrestrial life, but what happens if SETI detects a signal or we otherwise get what seems like convincing evidence of you know, that we aren’t alone in the universe. And there’s pretty much complete consensus in that community that that what we do is share that knowledge with the world that any any concern that we as scientists might have about the repercussions of that and you know, we could have some longer discussion about what we think that may be, but that’s sort of not not our job. Our job is to investigate Get the universe and share what we find. And so I think you will find that that would be the attitude in the scientific community is just to, to share what we find.
Karen Fox 10:12
Great, thank you so much. Moving on to our second question, which is from Marcia Dunn of the AP.
Marcia Dunn 10:20
Yes. Hi, can you hear me?
Karen Fox 10:22
Yes, you can.
Marcia Dunn 10:23
Okay.I’m struck by Michael’s comment that there’s probably plenty of stigma surrounding the topic right there at NASA headquarters. And given that, how hard was it, to kick off this study by NASA? And how hard was it to get sick and 16 open minded people to serve on the panel? Also, considering that they’ve been bombarded with online attacks? And also, why not just call these UFOs? Why UAPs? And furthermore, why switch the A from aerial to anomalous? Because that makes it even a bigger mouthful to say? Thanks.
Dan Evans 10:58
Alright, so lots of questions. How do we start, this started with the NASA administrator, Senator Bill Nelson, wanting to better understand UFOs. And that, in large part is based on the considerable work that he did when he was in the US Senate. But and I wanted to actually pay a major credit to Senator Nelson for, for doing this, because this has not historically been in NASA’s remit. And so it’s very rewarding that he has the confidence in NASA science, to take a scientific look in this because the administrator believes, as do we, that the tools of science apply here also. Now, how do you go about assembling a team of experts to come and do this task. And, again, I wanted to pay tribute to this incredible group that I’m proud to sit on the stage with right now. This is a complex task. We recognize that there is a need for expertise in multiple scientific disciplines. So we sought out recognized authorities in their respective fields, who could approach this investigation from diverse perspectives. And yes, given the sensitivity, and the stigma associated with the topic, it is important to find individuals who are willing to participate in this endeavor and I can tell you that we have nobody turn us down. Everybody on stage is our first choice because they collectively bring an incredible diversity of expertise to this task, and then combined, that diversity leads us to truly, I think, profound places. Let me address another question. And forgive me if I didn’t get to every single one of your sub questions. The term UAP originally, unidentified aerial phenomena was changed by the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law in December 2022, I believe, to identify anomalous phenomena and that was principally in recognition of the fact that one should expand our search beyond just airspace to potentially include near space, and undersea phenomena as well and consistent with that law than NASA accordingly changed our our charge to encompass multiple domains. Why don’t we call it UFOs? 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 us airspace safety. And I think also because we want to employ the rigorous scientific method that NASA is accustomed to providing, I think it’s actually good practice to to call these events UAPs, not UFOs.
Then I could be mistaken, but I thought it was actually in the Defense Authorization Act of 2022 is where this study was requested. Not it was not.
Dan Evans 14:47
The NDAA Scott actually authorized the establishment of the or domain anomaly resolution office AARO in the NDAA that was signed in for 21 I believe If 22 Exactly 22, excuse me, all right, and is Senator Nelson and Astrid ministry to the directors of this study take place for NASA.
Karen Fox 15:12
And for those online, that was Scott Kelly, who was responding to Dan.
Karen Fox 15:20
All right, moving on to our next question. Gina Sunseri. With ABC News.
Gina Sunseri 15:27
Yes. Questions for Dr. Drake, if she’s available,
Gina Sunseri 15:31
will you talk about the roadmap to this?
Gina Sunseri 15:34
But what would the roadblocks beat that roadmap?
Gina Sunseri 15:37
What are the hurdles that need to be overcome?
Nadia Drake 15:44
Nadia Drake 15:45
thank you for the question. This is Nadia,
Nadia Drake 15:47
I think I’m actually going to toss that one over to Dr. Spergel,
Nadia Drake 15:50
our chair to address what the possible roadblocks could be.
David Spergel 15:57
I mean, I think there’s a lot of different kinds of robots. I mean, a lot of them are so I feel in addressing this issue. We steer between the rocks and the cyclone, 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 Oh, students, you know, everything can be explained. And so to me, that’s the greatest roadblock we we want faces here. And I think as scientists, the way to approach questions is you start by saying, We don’t know. And then you collect data, and you try to calibrate your data well, and to go to an analogy we talked about earlier. The first step, if you want to find needles in haystacks or don’t even know to look, what you’re looking for, is you want to learn and characterize the haystack really well. And if you understand a well and how you measure and observe a well, you can find things. But that’s that’s not an approach that we have a community, I think the biggest challenge is you have community out there that says that haystack is filled with gold, and another community saying it’s not to look in a haystack for anything interesting. There’s nothing there. So I think to me, that’s the greatest challenge in this area. That’s right. Josh Smith
Karen Fox 18:00
matter. All right, I’m gonna move on to the next question, which is Bill Harwood with CBS News.
Bill Harwood 18:10
Thank you very much. This is for anyone really, but 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 understand, understood at this point? What does that actually mean? And what I’m asking you is, is that more a case of the data that you have either due to quality, the age of it subjective accounts, whatever, that the data just isn’t good enough to reach a conclusion? Or does it mean the data might be good, but what you’re seeing is something that cannot be understood in terms of known technology? Or is it both?
Karen Fox 18:43
Alright, Federica, Bianco Hi.
Frederica Bianco 18:46
So I think you actually hit the nail in the head. The data that we have seen is generally sparse, poor, difficult to analyze. And in the cases in which it’s best, we can determine the nature of the things that look weird, even if they look clear by you know, re measuring them or accurately and accurately finding out that they don’t move so fast, after all, and so on. There are many cases in which we might be under the impression that there might be something anomalous that the data is not provisioned to support an analysis that would allow us to really understand either the shape or the behavior in motion, or the relativity property of the object. So 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.
Karen Fox 19:42
All right. Moving on to our next question, we have Marina Koren from the Atlantic.
Marina Koren 19:50
Hi, thank you. I have two questions. The first is for any panelists who would like to take it? Can you tell us more about the online harassment that you receive? Were you surprised to get such harassment? And then a question for either David Spergel, or David Grinspoon, or both David’s you said near the end of today’s meeting that scientists are looking for life beyond Earth? Actively, obviously, and you mentioned techno signatures as one way that you’re doing that. You both also said that NASA should help remove the stigma around UAP. 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? Thank you.
Karen Fox 20:34
Great, really start with Dan Evans.
Dan Evans 20:36
Okay, so I’m going to address the first question, which was surrounding online harassment as the panelists. And although 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 the online trolling. That just is, that’s really the tip of the iceberg. I think the important point is actually this, that if we are truly to approach UAP, with an unwavering commitment, and dedication to the scientific process, then harassment of any nature only serves to detract from that process. And of course, we see this not just in in UAP, but in other fields of science, as well. I will underscore something that I said earlier today is that every single member of our team is a respected authority in their field. They have NASA’s complete and total support. And this is hard work. It’s serious work. And if we are truly to respect the sanctity of the scientific process, that we allow, need to allow science, indeed, to be free, and that freedom stems directly from an absence of harassment to this incredible team of panelists.
Karen Fox 22:14
All right, and really, the second question was to either David Spergel, or David Grinspoon. Yeah,
David Grinspoon 22:21
this is David Grinspoon, it’s an interesting question, because, you know, as I indicated in my talk, during the panel, there is conceptually a connection, perhaps, between astrobiology and SETI and the study of UAPs. In that, you know, it’s a big universe. And we have to admit that there are things out there, we don’t understand. And in fact, in some of those, not well understood or not, not understood, phenomenon may be really important clues to, you know, things like two important mysteries that we want to understand. If you were giving me a finite pot of resources, right now to look for bio signatures and techno signatures, would I put some of that those resources into studying UAPs? Personally, probably not. Because, as we said, we haven’t seen any evidence that indicates that UAPs have anything to do with extraterrestrial phenomena. So so to me, it’s much more straightforward as as a application of our curiosity about extraterrestrial life to look at exoplanets to look elsewhere in the solar system. So I don’t, we don’t have reason yet to explicitly explicitly connect UAPs. With that study in that way, however, as long as there’s a mystery, bait on Earth, or wherever we have to pursue it. And if the data leads us to, 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.
Karen Fox 24:13
Thank you so much. Moving on to the next question, which is from Jeff Brumfield of NPR.
Jeff Brumfield 24:20
Oh, Hi, there. I am sorry, to kind of belabor Marina question, but actually, the online chat for the livestream was close to at least on YouTube. So I was wondering if you could just be I’m not asking for names just a little more explicit about the type of harassment isn’t harassment you’re receiving from people who believe aliens are real or people who believe this is a ridiculous question or both sort of gay back to David’s burgles rock and hard place point.
Karen Fox 24:51
So just before I pass that question off, I would like to point out that there were in fact, two YouTube videos going live today. One has had all of that. And we will be sharing, you know, there will be a permanent version going up. So you’ll be able to watch watch. But I do think it is one of the best places to see an example. Because we’re, of course, in a position where, you know, based on privacy and security reasons, we’re not able to give examples.
Jeff Brumfield 25:16
No, no, just a general sense of where this, which can be, you know, you don’t have to point fingers just more of a general sense of what’s going on.
Karen Fox 25:24
Right, Dan Evans will give a response.
Dan Evans 25:27
I think every one of the 16 Strong panel, plus myself receives on a on a daily basis, emails of all sorts concerning this subject, but we’re not talking about that we’re talking about specific attacks on the character of individuals and their suitability to sit on this panel. And again, that’s really just scratching the surface. I’ll go back to the remark I made previously that if we are to follow science, which is exactly what the American public expects of this agency, then science needs to be free to conduct its process. And I think Paul has got a follow up.
Paula Bontempi 26:19
Yeah. This is Paula Bontempi. I just wanted to add to that. Two things. First, you know, the, when the panel was announced, I’m an oceanographer by trade, and I’m the dean of a Graduate School of oceanography. And I had a lot of people asking what possible role an oceanographer could play on this panel. And I’m, you know, I’m a satellite oceanographer. I’m also an optical oceanographer. And so one of the points I think the panel has repeatedly made today is about how, when you blend multiple communities that do and utilize different observations and data and analyses, for their science together, we tend to really break boundaries and push new frontiers in discovery. And that is exactly what NASA is about. And I would add one thing to it, and I would not call it harassment. But 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. And I think the other thing we’ve covered today is how to go about D stigmatizing reporting. Right? That also gives us more data with which to address understanding, reported events. So I think it all goes hand in hand.
Karen Fox 28:10
Thanks so much. Our next question is from Joey Roulette with Reuters.
Joey Roulette 28:17
Thanks. I don’t know who is best to answer this question. But
Joey Roulette 28:21
it’s about I guess, the overcoming the issue of the low calibrated data. Do you? Does this panel expect to recommend that a satellite or any kind of other sensor system should be dedicated to spotting UAPs? Or UFOs?
Joey Roulette 28:35
What would that look like? Exactly? And
Joey Roulette 28:38
also UAP now encompasses near space, was space part of the study? Are any of your findings? And if not, why did that not, you know, produce any kind of data
Joey Roulette 28:50
that was discussed today? Sorry, I
Joey Roulette 28:51
missed something on that front. But yeah.
David Spergel 28:54
So I don’t think we will this David Spergel. You know, while we haven’t reached our conclusions, yet, I do not think we’d be recommending a dedicated satellite. Satellites cover a relatively small, you have a trade off with a satellite, you can either cover a lot of the planet at very low resolution, far too low to yield anything interesting here or you can cover only a very small portion of the planet. So I think a dedicated satellite would not be very effective approach. We have been discussing ways in which you can engage citizen scientists engage the public in ways in which they could help collect data take advantage of an interest that will require well calibrated instruments. You know, I think we will be thinking through potential recommendations in that area. And you know, and see where we go from there, but I do not see just the limitations of a on how many pixels you have on a satellite, it’s a big planet, to cover at the resolution that you would need to continuously look for for events.
Karen Fox 30:13
Thank you very much. Our next question is from Shane Harris with the Washington Post.
Shane Harris 30:20
Hey, there, thanks for doing this related questions regarding the data that you had access to? Did you have access to military or intelligence agency data, including things like radar tracking information? And did the panel have any access to classified information sources? And if the answer is no to any of those, would that kind of information be more helpful in reaching more definitive conclusions?
David Spergel 30:47
The answer is no. This is an unclassified panel, we didn’t have that. role would, you know, I think background noise there was really more to provide a roadmap to NASA on how we can contribute. The Aaro is charged with being the lead CNS, they have access to the classified data, have issued regular reports on this and plan to issue additional reports, it’s really their responsibility to look through the classified data. I hope that was clear. We had a lot of background noise. Yep, that’s clear. Thanks
Karen Fox 31:31
And Dan Evans wanted to weigh in as well. Yeah, thanks.
Dan Evans 31:34
So just on score a few things that David said the focus our focus on unclassified data. It’s a strategic choice. And it’s meant to prioritize transparency and public engagement. And by working with unclassified data uniquely, we at NASA can share our findings and methods with the public and the scientific community. And that’s important because it allows open discussion, independent verification of the results. And of course, those are key principles in scientific research. Not only that the use of classified data allows for wider collaboration, not just within the US government, but also with our international partners, our our academia, partners, and of course, private industry, it’s important to note that the use of classified data doesn’t necessarily preclude collaboration with agencies that handle classified information, such as the automated anomaly resolution office. And yeah, such collaboration can occur as appropriate and necessary. But really, the focus of this work is on unclassified.
David Spergel 32:36
So this is David’s for let me just add something on classification, which is most data is classified. That’s how it’s taken, not what’s in the image. You know, if an F 35 takes a picture of a bird, it’s classified with military intelligence satellite, satellite takes an image of a balloon from space, it’s classified. So, you know, in many cases around these events, the classification is done not to, to hide the nature of the event, but in order to protect our our technical capabilities for for studying and assessing threats from potential adversaries.
Karen Fox 33:25
Thank you so much. Our next question is from Tim Fernholz with quartz.
Tim Fernholz 33:33
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about this and for holding the public meeting, just to maybe get you to talk a little bit more about what you might predict. Obviously, you mentioned you’re not interested in the NASA satellite for this. But based on the findings so far, is there any thought that NASA should have a program or program office dedicated towards thinking about UAPs in their research?
Mike Gold 33:59
So as I might go, look best on radio. As we mentioned previously, during the panel, I’ve been part of far too many Blue Ribbon studies and groups have produced reports that have just laid on the shelf. I think we have an inflection point opportunity here to the leadership that administrator Nelson has shown to institutionalize this and be able to tackle the issues that we’ve laid out in a comprehensive in serious fashion. And I think that requires a permanent office at NASA to effectively deal with the issues that we’ve laid out. None of the topics or challenges here can be dealt with quickly. And it really requires a permanent solution. And I think that could be implemented for a modest financial costs. So that’s certainly something at least I personally, will be pushing and recommending that we proceed with if you don’t To visualize something at NASA, the fear is it can go way far too quickly.
Karen Fox 35:07
Thank you so much. Our next question Oh, wait, I take it back then of influence the way into
Dan Evans 35:13
budget land. The very fact, of course, that we’re standing up this team and doing it in an extremely public setting, you know that, that tells you that NASA takes this issue seriously. But it’s also true to say that the funding going forward is going to be determined within the larger context of NASA’s overall budget. That is, of course annually by Congress. And the specifics are going to differ depend on a variety of factors. That includes the extent of the work required resources and an alignment of the UAP study with NASA’s overall mission and goals. As you know, of course, our budget is publicly available. Any allocation for this agency would make regarding UAP will be transparent, subject to public and congressional scrutiny as well it should be.
Karen Fox 36:09
Alright, now we’re moving on to the next question, which is from Brett Tingley with space.com.
Brett Tingley 36:17
Hello, thank you all for doing this. Given that the concepts of replicability and reproducibility are so fundamental to the scientific method, 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, and that there’s such a severe lack of data as outlined in the panel before
Karen Fox 36:43
going to David Spergel for that, and then to Federica Bianco.
David Spergel 36:46
So this is one where in the discussions I, earlier on I talked about Fast radio bursts. 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. And history of Fast Radio versus here, I think, are instructive. And that when they were first seen, they would doubt it, people weren’t sure they were there. Turned out that a class of Fast Radio Bursts turned out to be associated with microwave ovens that were where the doors were open before they were turned off. That produced a distinctive signal that was identified. But ultimately, the Fast Radio Bursts turned out to be a exciting cosmological phenomenon. One who’s discoverers just won the Shaw Prize yesterday. So that kind of shows, sometimes, you know, that very much wasn’t an anomaly. Sometimes anomalies are really interesting, and point to novel physical phenomenon. And I think there’s a number of interesting lessons learned there. When you know, initially, you often find things that are intriguing, you have to study their nature, sometimes they will turn out to have conventional explanations. But ultimately, in order to really detect and study or not, you know, anomalous events that are unpredictable, you have to decide figure out ways in which you can do dedicated observations and optimize your observational strategy to be able to do that. And I think that’s, as we think about UAPs, I think we’re informed by previous successes in identifying anomalies.
Karen Fox 38:53
Federico Bianca was gonna go, but I think she feels that I think David David covered it. Fantastic. We’ll move on to our next question, which is from Brandi Vincent, of defense.
Brandi Vincent 39:08
Thank you. And thank you all so much for doing this today. First, and I’m sorry if I missed this one. But who is the new NASA Science Advisor that’s embedding in AARO? And is someone from DOD and betting at NASA? Tell me a little bit more about sort of what to expect and your thinking there. And then separately, you’ve confirmed that unclassified data isn’t being used for NASA’s current studies by these outside experts. What’s your response to criticism that if NASA is not using classified MASINT or SIGINT data held by NGA, DIA and other DoD archives, that maybe it’s not getting a full and accurate assessment for the public?
Dan Evans 39:53
Okay, so I can respond to those. This is Dan Evans again. Yes, so we are shortly to send over a liaison officer to the Department of Defense, their or 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. He is an employee of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. And he really runs the show when it comes to our Earth Observing assets. All that being said, I want to underscore again, that NASA’s interests in UAP do differ from the Pentagon, and from the intelligence community, we are adopting a science focus here. And it’s good because we believe that science has a seat at the table. Individuals such as Mark can translate into both domains between unclassified and classified data. But I will foot stomp a remark I made earlier, namely, that we see true benefit to this team working solely on unclassified data. Because when you restrict yourself to those types of data, you can collaborate freely, with academia, with industry, with international partners, and we need as many eyes on this subject as possible. So there’s actually a huge advantage about it. And also, we can speak about it in public. Again, huge benefit for us to do it like this.
Karen Fox 41:42
Thank you. Moving on to Andrea Leinfelder with the Houston Chronicle.
Andrea Leinfelder 41:49
Hi, I, thanks for taking the questions. First, I want to double check the AR o stat. It said there have been more than 800 UAP sightings collect in the past 27 years. And of those maybe two to 5% are truly anomalous, is that correct? And then second, you know, data has been a really big part of the conversation a day. But I’m really struggling to explain it just a very simple way, how we are going to collect better data, you know, you’ve talked about multiple sources, maybe using existing assets. But if you just kind of give me more of a direct answer on how to collect better data for this random event, thank you.
Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick 42:31
This is Dr. Kirkpatrick from AARO. Those stats are correct. It’s we’re currently tracking over 800 cases. In few percent of those are truly anomalous, those numbers are going to change. They change weekly. And in our our file, our annual report coming up here this summer, you’ll get new numbers that have come out. My hope is that as we build out our website, those statistics will be kept up in real time. So people can just take a look at where we are in the picture. To answer your second question, I’ll start and then I’ll hand it over to you guys. From a how do we get better data perspective, I spoke a little bit this morning about analyzing the data sets that exist in current sensors, whether that’s FAA sensors or overhead sensors, to look at what sensors can actually see the types of things that we’re looking for, which I also spoke about this morning. And then further, we’ve got some purpose built surveillance systems that we’re deploying for just that purpose to look for search and track any of these objects over long periods of time so that we can get a baseline pattern analysis and a life analysis so that we can understand what’s normal, and what’s not normal. And then from there, we will bootstrap ourselves up into what sort of signatures are we picking out? And how do we refine our collection architecture to go after that? This will take time working through the data and the signatures that we have, it’ll be a little bit of searching of some old data, it’ll be looking at dedicated sensors in the future. Dan or David overdue?
David Spergel 44:25
Yeah. So something we are thinking about, and this is I would, you know, as I said at the beginning, we’re still we’re not yet written our report. We’re still in the stage of deliberating is the use of cell phones. We have there’s a water terminal three to 4 billion cell phones in the world. It’s a great citizen science opportunity. And cell phones record not only images, we’re all used to cell phone cameras, but they measure the local magnetic field Are there Graviton monitors, they measure sound, then they encode enormous amount of information about the environment around them. They pick up GPS signals, so have accurate timestamps and location stamps. And something that I think a number of us have been thinking about is, you know, potentially making a recommendation about NASA inlet, either internally, or, more likely externally enlisting a company to develop an app that could record data on cell phones, and then perhaps supporting the development of a website in which this data would be uploaded. If and if you have something seen by multiple cell phones, with good timestamp, data’s at multiple angles, you’re able to infer the location and velocity of that object. Most of the time, that will tell you it’s a plane, it’s a balloon, whatever. And if it’s something novel, you have high quality, uniformly selected data that can be used, and then combined with other data sets, like radar data, overhead data. And you I think the way one would want to understand really, you know, first eliminate the normal and then identify anything interesting is have multi-platform data that one can combine in an interesting way. And I think that’s, I think the way a number of us are thinking about how we might approach this,
Karen Fox 46:41
and Federica Bianco.
Frederica Bianco 46:42
Yeah, just to add that one of the things we emphasize multiple times today already is that the data needs to be well calibrated. So not only do we need to collect large amounts of data, but the information of the metadata so the information about the data has to be collected at the same time. So really, an ideal platform will give you not only the data, but also a wealth of information about the sensor that then allows you to really understand the context in which the data will stay.
Karen Fox 47:10
Thank you. We have about 10 minutes left and many, many questions. So I am going to try and get through as many as we can. But please note when you ask your question, and when you answer it, we might start picking up the pace a little bit, even though I know that’s not what any of us prefer to do. Alright, so our next question is Leonard David with Scientific American.
Leonard David 47:30
You know, thanks for doing this. I guess the question I’ve got is, you know, to what extent is the term UAP giving the folklore kind of mystique of UFOs and we’re talking Roswell crash, recovered aliens, public encounters, you know, on and on. Is that term UAP? Could it have nothing to do with a possibility? Other star folk visiting here?
Karen Fox 48:04
Okay, we have somebody, Mike, are you going to jump in? But
Mike Gold 48:09
Hey, Leonard, it’s good to hear your voice. This is Mike Gold. I think the very term UAP was intended to get away from the assumptions and baggage that are part of the term UFO. Again, I’m a recovering attorney. So I believe words matter, words of power. And I think what was trying to be achieved with that terminology. And 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. And it’s certainly a goal that we have this with this group to eliminate the bias and to proceed from an objective scientific perspective.
Karen Fox 49:02
Thank you very much. Next question is from Doris Urrutia from inverse.
Doris Elin Urrutia 49:10
Hello, thank you for having this meeting. So to clarify, how many of the 800 samadhi UAP sightings has the 16 person group been able to view and of the several dozen do a piece sightings that remain anomalous? Are there hints of a natural origin for at least those that the 16 person team has access to view? For example, could this could be anomalous? UAPs be explained by something along the lines of sprites or ball lightning? Thank you.
David Spergel 49:45
So our this is David Spergel. Our remit was not really to go through those 800 events, right, that that really is the responsibility that Congress gave ARL Our task was to To develop a roadmap for NASA, on how they could contribute, where to go
Dan Evans 50:08
precisely that. Great,
Karen Fox 50:10
thank you. Moving on to Natalie Jonas with Aerospace America.
Natalie Jonas 50:19
Yeah, thanks for doing this meeting. I have a question for David Spergel. So you mentioned the creation of an app to submit sightings and media taking people across the country. Is this in production? Is this in production or just an idea to help sort of help centralize citizen science data?
David Spergel 50:38
You know, our job is to make recommendations to NASA. So this is a I would say a potential recommendation. Since we haven’t written a report yet that we might make to NASA and then NASA would make any decision on implementation. We’re, we’re an independent advisory board. You know, our our responsibility is to give advice. As someone who has commissioned independent advisory boards, Nasser’s responsibility is to listen to their advice, take it seriously, and then assess which aspects of it they want to follow.
Karen Fox 51:17
Great, thank you very much. We will be sharing these recommendations of course when they are finished, and we will make them all public. Next question is from Keith Cowen with NASAWatch.com.
Keith Cowen 51:30
By a question for Dr. Evans, this committee is engaged in the topic that I think everybody will agree, the public is equating with the search for life life, Elson the work elsewhere in the universe, even if it isn’t in the charter, even if you don’t want to make that connection. And I get the whole stigma thing, the giggle factor and the threats, trust me. But to be honest, NASA also allows some goofy sci fi movies with aliens to be shot in their facilities with a big NASA logo. My question with regard to the whole transparency issue is why is it that the NASA Astrobiology website, the NASA citizen Citizen Science website, the NASA Education website all make no mention of this committee or the meeting today? Or the topic under discussion? And 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 that has been set up to look for life in the universe.
Dan Evans 52:27
Okay, firstly, I love love your Twitter stream, I get so much information from it. So thank you for that. Look. Point number one. And 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? I think that when we stood up this incredible team, we did so in recognition of the fact that we need to get to an answer without assuming an origin going in. And we also acknowledge that there could potentially be very serious risks to us airspace as a result of us not necessarily knowing what is in our skies at a given time. And of course, that has national security implications, as well. To your point about astrobiology. Well, of course, astrobiology primarily focuses on the search for life in the universe. And the study is the origins and the study of UAPs is truly a distinct undertaking, in its own right. It has its own goals, its own methodologies. And that’s primarily concerned with identifying the nature and origin of UAPs. Not necessarily connecting that with the search for extraterrestrial life. As I’ve said numerous times today, we are all committed to transparency, and openness at NASA. And this is why we’re holding these meetings or this meeting in such a public forum. This is why you’ve been able to see the team really do science. And this is why we will be releasing the full report later this summer on our website.
Karen Fox 54:35
Thank you very much. If we move quickly, I think we have time for two more questions. So next up is Julian Barnes with the New York Times.
Julian Barnes 54:45
Hi, thanks for taking the question. Clarification, you mentioned that there had been an uptick of reports after the Chinese spy balloon transmitted the US Do you have any further information about how Many more numbers, that how many more reports that yielded. And then the geometry around the Coface video was pretty interesting. 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?
Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick 55:29
Hi, this is Dr. Kirkpatrick from AARO, let me answer your first question. And then I’ll tell you what our plans are going forward. So the the uptick that was alluded to by some of the panel members. No, I don’t have an exact number for you from I guess, February until now, we can certainly do the math on what we reported in the last annual report we have, we’ve had a cut off date of December to now which is when it was about 511 or so and last year’s annual report, and it’s over 800. Now that number changes all the time. A lot of the uptick we’ve had recently is mostly because we’ve integrated the FAA data, which is, you know, over 100 new cases, just alone in the last few weeks. So, but that covers many, many years worth of data. That’s not like all at once. So it’s, it’s a little bit of a misnomer to think all of that increases just over the last few months. It’s covers many, many years. And all that will be detailed, of course, in our our report this summer. And as we get the website going, and we can have all these statistics out there for everybody, they can see it all the time. Your second question on the analysis performed on one of those videos, 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. That’s that is the ultimate goal, as I’ve said, in many occasions, as we’ve laid out the plans for how AARO is going to operate. And we will do that with our NASA team, with our interagency team with our scientific community.
Karen Fox 57:39
Thank you so much. I promise one last question. And then we’ll have to wrap it up today. Robert Coppinger with spaceflight magazine. Hello.
Robert Coppinger 57:50
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 following work. And Dr. Evans, are you going to lead the collaboration, any collaboration with the UK space agency? Because you’re British? And also Carlene toner, could you? I think I heard you say the FAA might make it mandatory for pilots to to make reports about UAP. Did I hear you correctly those. That’s the more questions. Thanks.
Dan Evans 58:26
Okay, thanks very much. Well, certainly for the purposes of today, I’m absolutely an American citizen. I’m a dual national. Let me get get to budget questions. You know, we have a lengthy budget process right now, this agency is going through internal preparations for the FY 25 budget request. Too early to say what would happen there because it’s a hallmark of us of data science to really have this deep partnership with the community. And by having this august group of independent experts come in, we solidify that partnership, and we look forward to their recommendations. And we’ll take appropriate action at the right time, too early to say which fiscal year if any things would fall into and as I said earlier, it’s a complicated process federal budgeting, 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, that there are different swim lanes and DOD in the intelligence community have vastly different interests in UAP than NASA’s science program.
Karen Fox 59:51
And the second question about the FAA
Karlin Toner 59:56
This is Carlin toner and I’ll start but I might turn it over to Warren Randolph. Follow up. So we heard from our speaker this morning, our FAA surveillance experts, that the controllers do have an operational procedure to report things that they see. And I believe similarly, the FAA does not mandate pilots can report but there is a volunteer reporting system and I have Warren clarify that.
Warren Randolph 1:00:23
Sure. Thank you, Warren Randolph. Yes, the system. First of all, just just to reiterate what Colin just said, and to answer the question directly, there are no plans and there are no requirements for required UAP reporting. So I want to be on our airmen. I want to be clear about that. From the federal government level, there may be internal reporting requirements at different operators or what have you, but there is nothing in the civilian, federal government and the FAA there is no regulatory requirements want to be clear there. Now, there are voluntary reporting environments. And the aviation community utilizes those one is the excuse me, the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System, a s Rs. There are some voluntary, submitted reports from flight crews as well as air traffic, basically citing UFO or UAP. So that’s in the public domain. And I encourage you to take a look at that.
Karen Fox 1:01:28
Thank you so much. To those on the line. I do apologize for those whose questions we could not get to you should feel free to send an email in to Katherine Rohloff. And to me, Karen Fox, and we will try to get answers to you. Thank you so much for our panel. It’s been a long day and I think we are wrapping up now. Thank you so much.
And this does conclude today’s conference. You may disconnect at this time.Follow The Black Vault on Social Media: