Sensors and data analysis could help solve UFO mystery, experts say


The confounding mystery of 120 documented sightings of UFOs in recent years and the decades-old question of where they are coming from all sound like it might be about time to call in some trained problem solvers.

Those problem solvers would be better known as engineers. Better yet, aerospace engineers.

“If there really were UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) sightings near military installations that were recurring on a regular basis, the sense-ible thing to do would be to set up an array of all kinds of sensors (lidar, spectrometers, etc.) and get a lot of data on these phenomena,” said one veteran aerospace engineer who asked not to be identified.

“From what has been publicly released, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of hard data, just some fuzzy videos and visual observations by pilots,” the engineer added. “We need more sensors and data…There isn’t enough data to analyze or to formulate hypotheses” about the objects or their behavior.

Such data collection and analysis could be expensive, which may be one reason Congress has not authorized more research in years past. In 2007, the Department of Defense started a $22 million program known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to investigate military encounters with UAPs. Since that year, Navy pilots and others have reported repeated encounters with aerial objects that defy gravity and the laws of flight, some backed by camera and infrared sensor observations obtained mainly from aircraft.

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“Clearly, the more data we acquire from multiple sources and modalities, the better in trying to analyze all of this,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “Sensor data is not always…deterministic. There could be reasonable, earth-based explanations. There could also be some natural phenomenon at work that we don’t understand. “

More sensors in the right places would be able to tell scientists if the unidentified objects were from outer space or inner space, he added. “We would need to have a data trail to follow the objects, and not just a small chunk of data that we currently have at a particular point in time,” Gold said.

“I don’t think we can cover the Earth with sensors, so what would be the best way to obtain the data since the sightings appear random and spaced over a long-time interval?” Gold asked. “Since it is a long-time operation, how will we pay for it?”

A report on the matter from the Director of National Intelligence is due to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 29, according to a press official for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida).

A DNI spokesperson said Monday that the date would be four days earlier, on June 25, which is 180 days after the omnibus spending bill passed Congress on December 27.  The spending bill included the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021.

Whatever the final date, the report is expected to offer no firm conclusion of what the objects detected by military pilots and others in recent years are expected to be, according to Biden administration officials who spoke to the Washington Post and New York Times in recent days.

The authorization act requires that the report must provide “detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence” from the Office of Naval Intelligence, the FBI and the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force created last year to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that “could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”

 That act also calls for a detailed description of how the interagency process would proceed for collecting data and analysis going forward. There is another requirement for recommendations for future UFO research and funding.

 The office of DNI did not offer any comment on content of the report when contacted by Fierce Electronics. Some elected officials theorize that sightings recorded by sensors and cameras and seen by military aviators are not from alien worlds at all and might even be advanced technology from China or Russia.

“Men and women we have entrusted with the defense of our country are reporting encounters with unidentified aircraft with superior capabilities,” Rubio said in a statement to Fierce Electronics on Monday. “We cannot allow the stigma of UFOs to keep us from seriously investigating this. The forthcoming report is one step in that process, but it will not be the last.”

Rubio chaired the intelligence committee until January. The chairmanship is now in the hands of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia.

In a statement, Warner said, “It is my hope that [the report] can provide answers if our naval pilots encounter interference performing their duties. Addressing any risks that can endanger their lives whether on a mission or during training must remain a priority.”