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NASA launches UFO study despite ‘reputational risk’

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is launching a study of UFOs in a new push toward high-risk, high-impact science.

The space agency announced Thursday that it is setting up an independent team to see how much information is publicly available on the matter and how much more is needed to understand the unexplained sightings. The experts will also consider how best to use all this information in the future.

NASA Science Mission Chief Thomas Zurbuchen acknowledged that the mainstream science community might see NASA as a “sort of sellout” by venturing on the controversial topic, but he’s not at all dissenting. OK.

“We don’t fear reputational risk,” Zurbuchen said during a National Academy of Sciences webcast. “Our firm belief is that the greatest challenge with these phenomena is that it is a data-poor field.”

NASA considers this to be a first step in trying to explain the mysterious sightings in the sky known as UAPs, or unidentified aerial phenomena.

The study will begin this fall and will last nine months and cost no more than $100,000. It will be completely open, without the use of classified military data.

NASA said the team will be led by astrophysicist David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation to advance scientific research. At a press conference, Spergel said the only preconception going into the study is that UAPs will likely have multiple explanations.

“We have to approach all of these issues with humility,” Spergel said. “I spent most of my career as a cosmologist. I can tell you that we don’t know what makes up 95% of the universe. So there are things we don’t understand.”

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