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NASA has announced plans to commission a new study examining “observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena.” According to the agency, the unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) study will focus on identifying available data, the best methods of collecting future data and how NASA can use that data to further its scientific understanding of UAPs. NASA estimates the study will last around nine months.

“The limited number of observations of UAPs currently makes it difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of such events,” NASA said. “Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for both national security and air safety. Establishing which events are natural provides a key first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena, which aligns with one of NASA’s goals to ensure the safety of aircraft.”

NASA Science Mission Directorate assistant deputy associate administrator for research Daniel Evans will be responsible for organizing the study. The independent study team will be led by Simons Foundation president and astrophysicist David Spergel. NASA noted that it is not part of the Department of Defense’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force or Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.

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