June 1, 2023 -BBC News –A Nasa panel investigating unidentified flying objects has collected around 800 mysterious reports – but only a small fraction are truly unexplained, researchers say.
The agency set up the panel last year to explain its work on what it calls unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP).
UAP are defined as sightings “that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective”.
The panel, which will issue a report later this year, held its first public meeting on Wednesday.
Here are some of the revelatory moments.
Many sightings can be explained – others remain a mystery
“We have 50 to 100-ish new reports each month,” said Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).
But he said the number of those sightings which are “possibly really anomalous” are 2% to 5% of the total database.
At one point during the hearing, a video taken by a naval aircraft over the western US showed a series of dots moving across the night sky. The military plane was unable to intercept the object, which turned out to be a commercial aircraft heading towards a major airport.
Other sightings are more mysterious.
A separate Pentagon report in 2021 said that of 144 sightings by military pilots made since 2004, all but one remained unexplained. Officials did not rule out the possibility that the objects are extra-terrestrial.
Privacy limits Nasa investigations
Mr Kirkpatrick also noted that privacy concerns limit the agency’s investigations.
“We can point the largest collection apparatus in the entire globe at any point we want,” he said.
“A lot of what we have is around the continental United States,” he added. “Most people…don’t like it when we point our entire collection apparatus at your backyard.”