No Evidence Of UFOs But Better Data Needed: NASA Panel


If they’re out there, there’s “absolutely no convincing evidence” that we’ve seen them, but that doesn’t mean the search for “unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP)” formerly known as UFOs should stop, according to a NASA committee struck last year. “In fact, if I were to summarize in one line what I feel we’ve learned is we need high-quality data,” said panel chairman David Spergel, a renowned cosmologist.

The panel was formed after widely publicized gun camera video of strange objects encountered by military air crews went viral. The 16-member panel then went through about 800 reports of unexplained phenomena but there wasn’t enough information in them to say what they are or if they ever actually existed. The panel did note that up to 5 percent of the sightings have never been explained. Most of the others were the result of innocuous encounters with common objects such as balloons or microwave ovens.

Part of the reason the data is muddy is the stigma associated with claiming to have seen a UAP/UFO. Panelists got a taste of that when they got nasty messages and even threats from people who either passionately believe in the existence of otherworldly beings or who scoff at the notion and complained about the investigation being a waste of time and money. Nicola Fox, director of NASA’s space science directorate, said abuse of the noted scientists, aviation and space experts who agreed to give the existing evidence a hard look is disturbing and hampers the process. “Harassment only leads to further stigmatization of the UAP field, significantly hindering the scientific progress and discouraging others to study this important subject matter. [The] harassment also obstructs the public’s right to knowledge,” she said.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Re: the third paragraph – Scientists and researchers did what the committee was called to do, and now they are the victims here? Since when does the shouting of mobs influence the search for truth? LOL

    I really want to get a look at that report featuring a microwave oven…

    • “…balloons or microwave ovens.”–stopped reading and went, “WTF?” An obvious error, probably involving a word processor program’s auto-error funtion in close proximity to an interstellar propulsion system. Or something.
      Giggling aside, I really prefer UFO to UAP. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

        • Paul
          Mate you are half the reason I subscribe to this newsletter and I love what you present and value your wisdom. However in this matter you are plain wrong. You are/were not the only owner of an unidentified flying microwave oven. I too have owned one such paranormal appliance: it got well and truly airborne when my apprentice rolled my work truck 20 years ago.
          Maybe some of those scientists picked it up on radar?

  2. These photos are easy to explain. Example: if you film a jet very far away, it looks like it is hardly moving. If you film next to the runway, the jet could be a flash in your film and possibly out of focus. Distance, speed and respective are hard to determine in a film. Space is also littered with manmade space junk and natural debris from meteorites and small particles. Now you put a cameras in space traveling at a high speed, you are bound to pickup something. Even filming outside when not moving, bugs can ruin a photo.

    Oh, as for visible intelligent life out there, if there were any – why would they bother coming to earth?

  3. “Better Data” would by necessity have to consist of CNN or MSNBC conducting an interview with the “space aliens” operating these UAPs. Until then, any investigation is a waste of time same as Project Bluebook of decades ago. If indeed they are ETs, why would they bother snooping around this planet? Nothing here, move on.

  4. They way things are here, if an intelligent life form from another planet were to fly this direction, they would most likely fly PAST, not TO this ball of dirt ………and lock their doors.

  5. “Most of the others were the result of innocuous encounters with common objects such as balloons or microwave ovens.” Microwave ovens? FLYING microwave ovens???? is this a typological error? Please explain how microwave ovens get launched and more than that maintain some sort of flight trajectory?
    As for UAP, well to quote Robert McNamara “we don’t know what we don’t know”. And that will always be true, even in a finite universe.

    • My guess is he meant microwave reflectors, but the word processor “corrected” it. I don’t use auto-error, because I want all typos to be my own.

  6. I have never understood why someone felt the need to change the acronym from UFO to UAP. Why bother expending the time and energy to change it?

  7. As for “microwave ovens” – unless that is indeed an autocorrect error, I believe it it is more of a (very successful) tongue-in-cheek author’s liberty by Mr Niles. Great job!

  8. I don’t know if this is what NASA is referring to, but there was a famous story in Australia where a radio telescope was recording unexplained random radio bursts, which some theorized were from an intelligent source outside of our solar system. After many years and lots of study, it was determined (and demonstrated) to be the result of people opening a break room microwave oven door while it was on. Not an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO), but it was Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP).

    • Apparently, the Australia microwave oven incident was indeed discussed by the panel, which is how this found its way into the report. Point being that the various flavors of observation & targeting hardware in use today collectively utilize almost every variety of electromagnetic radiation, so anything that radiates might well pop up on some display or other.

  9. I’ve flown various microwave ovens. It’s not really aerodynamic, unless you leave the door open… However, it fits the category of UFO. Unidentified Flying Oven.

  10. My aviation mentor once told me “With enough power, anything can fly.” I suspect a microwave oven’s range would be limited by the length of the power cord though.

  11. UFO/UAP have been previously explained in a classic text by Christopher Buckley – _Little Green Men_. Highly recommended.

  12. It’s really sad when the mental pygmies in this country feel compelled to make threats of violence against responsible people doing things for the benefit of the country. Election officials all over the nation are being harassed and threatened while they try to conduct fair and impartial elections. This type of behavior threatens the very basis of a free and democratic society whether it involves elections or people volunteering to do research on somewhat controversial issues. Unfortunately it seems to be a byproduct of the internet generation and probably not much can be done about it.

  13. This is the best laugh I’ve had all this month, reading these comments.
    Where would we be without microwave ovens?