NASA's newly-formed panel on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) held its first public meeting on Wednesday (May 31). The 16-member panel, chaired by astrophysicist David Spergel, features experts in various fields, including astronomy, computer science, oceanography, and journalism. It also counts former astronaut Scott Kelly as a member.
"It is our collective responsibility to investigate these occurrences with the rigorous scientific scrutiny that they deserve," Dan Evans, an associate administrator at NASA, said at the hearing via USA TODAY. "It's an opportunity for us to expand our understanding of the world around us. This work is in our DNA."
Evans said identifying these objects is a matter of public safety.
"We have to determine if they pose any risks to air safety to ensure our skies remain safe," Evans said.
Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, said that the agency has received over 800 reports of UAPs and continues to receive between 50 and 100 every month. However, Kirkpatrick noted that less than 5% of the reports are "possibly really anomalous."
The panel said that one of the most significant issues in identifying anomalous objects is a lack of reliable data.
"The current data collection efforts about UAPs are unsystematic and fragmented across various agencies, often using instruments uncalibrated for scientific data collection," Spergel said.
The panel said that it expects to publish its final report on UAPs in July.