NASA sets up study team to look at Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)

The agency defines UAPs as "observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena".

The study will focus on examining existing data, collecting further data and determining how the agency can use it to further its scientific understanding of the phenomena.

According to the agency, the small number of UAPs makes it difficult to draw conclusions about their nature.

"Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for both national security and air safety," it said in a news release.

"Establishing which events are natural provides a key first step to identifying or mitigating such phenomena, which aligns with one of NASA's goals to ensure the safety of aircraft."

However, the agency was quick to pour cold water on the idea of UAPs being visiting aliens, saying there was "no evidence" they were extraterrestrial in origin.

"We have access to a broad range of observations of Earth from space – and that is the lifeblood of scientific inquiry," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, said.

"We have the tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown. That's the very definition of what science is. That's what we do."

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