A committee set up by NASA has examined about 800 reports of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs), or what most of us would call UFOs (unidentified flying objects). NASA defines these events as sightings "that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective".

The creation of this committee shows that NASA is taking potential extraterrestrial events very seriously. On Wednesday, May 31 2023, the committee held its first public meeting to discuss what it is doing and what it has found so far, ahead of a full later this year.

It revealed some reports are easy to explain as boats, planes or weather, some had comical, lunch-based origins, and only a few remain a mystery.

The committee is led by astrophysicist David Spergel and is made up of a team of experts ranging from university professors to a former astronaut. The study has been using declassified reports and images to try to explain some of the mysterious reports, which come from all sorts of sources including military personnel and commercial airline pilots.

Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the US Defense Department's All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), which also investigates such claims, says it receives between 50 and 100 new reports of UAPs each month.

While UAPs are essentially just a different name for UFOs, they don't specifically have to be in the air. Any anomalous phenomena are included, whether they are on land, sea, air or space, so this is a slightly wider definition than just unidentified flying objects.

Kirkpatrick also says that most UAPs are easily explained—for example, boats that are low on the horizon tricking pilots with strange perspectives. Only about 2-5% of the database is truly anomalous and cannot yet be explained.

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