After all the hype and expectation...the government still has no explanation for almost all of the unidentified aerial phenomena reported over almost two decades according to a report released last Friday, a result that is likely to fuel theories of otherworldly visitations.

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A total of 143 reports gathered since 2004 remain unexplained, the document released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.

Of those, 21 reports of unknown phenomena, possibly demonstrate technological capabilities that are unknown to the United States and that is believed to be beyond the capabilities of Russia, China, or other terrestrial nations.

There is no evidence that any of the episodes involve secret American programs, unknown technology from Russia or China or extraterrestrial visitations. But the government report did not rule out those explanations.

While they clustered around military training or testing grounds, the report found that that could be the result of collection bias or the presence of cutting-edge sensors in those areas.

Government officials outlined a plan to develop, providing additional funding is made available, a better program to observe and collect data on future unexplained phenomena.

The failure to reach a conclusion in the report raised questions about how seriously the government has taken UFOs until now and whether it had assembled adequate scientific expertise to examine them.

Government officials last Friday were reluctant to acknowledge that the phenomena could be extraterrestrial craft, a signal of how unlikely they view that explanation.

There was no conclusive evidence that the unexplained phenomena are alien spacecraft in the report.

The report released last Friday is an interim report.

The government intends to update Congress within 90 days on efforts to develop an improved collection strategy and a technical road map to better observe the phenomena. Officials said they would provide lawmakers with periodical updates beyond that.

The Pentagon and intelligence agencies have long eschewed the term U.F.O. and refer instead to U.A.P., or unidentified aerial phenomena in an effort to remove the stigma that U.F.O. can carry, in order to encourage pilots to report their observations and for scientists to study them.

The new report laid out five categories of possible explanation for the phenomena: a secret technology developed by an adversarial power like Russia and China, classified cutting-edge American technology, a naturally occurring phenomenon, airborne clutter such as errant weather balloons and a catchall “other” category. That final group could include extraterrestrial technology.

Of the episodes examined by the task force, only one could be identified and categorized: “a large, deflating balloon” that was classified as airborne clutter.

The report was made public because of a provision inserted by Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, into a huge spending bill passed by Congress.

“The Defense Department and intelligence community have a lot of work to do before we can actually understand whether these aerial threats present a serious national security concern,” Mr. Rubio said.

The Pentagon did announce it would develop procedures to collect data and analyze reports of unidentified phenomena, adding staffing and other resources to examine the episodes.

The effort may require some outside expertise, but scientists, who have long avoided studying U.F.O.s, are likely going to need cajoling.

(New York Times)

 

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