‘We love data’: NASA wants your UFO stories for better research, to reduce stigma

NASA scientists are asking people to share their experiences of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UPA) sightings, saying more information and research surrounding these reports could help reduce stigma associated with the topic.

“At NASA, we’re scientists, we love data. We love all data. And if there is something that needs to be reported, we want people to be able to feel that they can report that,” Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said at a news briefing Thursday.

The space agency held the briefing to share details about its highly anticipated report on UAP, also known as unidentified flying objects or UFOs. The report, completed by numerous experts from around the world, determined there was not enough “high-quality” evidence on UAP to explain what they are, but they are not linked to extraterrestrials.

The “folklore” of UAP and life on other planets is part of the reason why the agency wrote the report.

“We all are entertained by ‘Indiana Jones’ in the Amazon and finding the ‘Crystal Skull’,” Bill Nelson, NASA’s administrator said of the UAP stories known to the public. “That’s why we entered the arena to try to get into this from a science point.”

“The current approach to UAP data collection has led to a limited sample of events and limited data,” David Spergel, president of Simons Foundation and chair of NASA’s UAP independent study team, said at the briefing.

Data is collected by technology that scans the skies and reporting from pilots, both civilian and military, but stigma leads some to not report UAP sightings.

“We know there’s missing data,” Spergel said.


To combat stigma on the topic, NASA hopes to engage the public and pilots in reporting anomalies. One way it hopes to do this is by integrating reporting of UAP in the aviation reporting system.

NASA’s study on UAP is also contributing to the “de-stigmatization” of the topic by giving it credibility, Fox explained.

The report, which took a year to complete, aimed to bring some answers to UAP using scientific data. The agency used information from technology monitoring the skies and “crowdsourcing techniques,” the report notes.

To better understand UAP and shift the conversation from “sensationalism” to “science,” NASA has also appointed a director of research for UAP. But the agency said it will not name the new director to avoid harassment.

“Science needs to undergo a rigorous and rational process and you need the freedom of thought to be able to do that,” Dan Evans, assistant deputy associate administrator for research, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said. “Some of the threats and the harassment have been beyond the pale, quite frankly, to some of our panellists.”

In instances during the study, panellists were “trolled” online, Evans said, but in some cases, it was elevated to “actual threats.”

“That’s in part, why we are not splashing the name of our new director out there. Because science needs to be free,” he said. 

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