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Officials at NASA selected a team of 16 scientists and experts who will delve into the mysteries surrounding unidentified aerial phenomena — more popularly known as unidentified flying objects or UFOs. The independent study kicked off Monday.
The group will include experts across numerous disciplines — including astrobiology, data science, oceanography, genetics, policy and planetary science — as well as retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, a former fighter pilot and test pilot and retired US Navy captain.
The space agency, which first announced it was forming the group in June, previously revealed that the team would be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, who is president of the Simons Foundation in New York City.
The new group won’t necessarily seek to determine exactly what the UAPs, which have been seen moving through restricted military airspace over the past several decades, are. Rather, the team will look to hash out exactly how it’s best for NASA to approach further study of the phenomenon.
The space agency has already noted that the limited number of observations of UAPs has made it difficult to draw scientific conclusions about the nature of such events.
“Without access to an extensive set of data, it is nearly impossible to verify or explain any observation, thus the focus of the study is to inform NASA what possible data could be collected in the future to scientifically discern the nature of UAP,” according to a NASA news release.