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In June, the US government published a long-awaited report into UFOs. Although the report did not, as many had hoped, admit to the existence of little green men, it did reveal that not only were objects appearing in our skies that the Pentagon – which controls the US military – could not explain, but some clearly pose “a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to US national security”.

The Pentagon also revealed that it has been taking UFOs so seriously that in 2007 it discreetly set up the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which has been gathering data on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) ever since.

The unclassified version of the report (there was also a classified version seen only by US lawmakers) found “no clear indications that there is any non-terrestrial explanation” for the sightings. But neither did it rule it out. The report offered five typically mundane possible explanations for the UFOs and, crucially, one catch-all “other” bin.

It’s that “other” bin that has arrested the attention of stargazers and conspiracy theorists. If the US military has been quietly and seriously investigating UFOs (or, as the Pentagon would have it, UAPs) since 2007, and if the Pentagon’s official report cannot rule out the existence of extraterrestrials, is it time we looked again at claims of close encounters and the people who have made them?

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