Reports of “flying saucers” in the 1940s and 50s became an American cultural phenomenon. Between 1947 and 1969, when the Cold War was approaching its climax, more than 12,000 UFO sightings were reported to Project Blue Book. Some ridiculed the sightings, and others were convinced that “unidentified flying objects” (UFOs) represented extraterrestrial life. But what is finally the truth about UFOs, which have been flying over our skies for decades? Now, a declassified version of the latest U.S. defense-intelligence report on UFOs, rebranded as “unidentified aerial phenomena” in official government parlance, is expected to be made public in the coming days.
However, UFO enthusiasts hoping for the government to rule on any of the hundreds of US military sightings under investigation as extraterrestrial spacecraft visits are likely to be disappointed.
The most recent incidents under investigation are attributed to a combination of foreign surveillance, including relatively routine drone flights, and airborne clutter such as weather balloons, according to The New York Times, citing US officials familiar with a classified analysis due to be delivered to Congress on Monday, Oct. 31.
Many of an older set of unexplained aerial phenomena, or UAPs, are still officially categorized as unexplained, with too little data analysis to draw any conclusions, the Times said.
U.S. Defense Department spokesperson Sue Gough said in a statement this week that there is no single explanation that addresses the majority of UAP reports. “We are collecting as much data as we can, following the data where it leads, and will share our findings whenever possible,” Gough said.
She stated that the US government must take care not to reveal “sensitive information” to foreign adversaries about what American intelligence knows about their surveillance operations and how that information is known.
It remains to be seen what the UAP report says, if anything, about whether any of the phenomena are of alien origin or if they are the result of foreign adversaries flying highly advanced hypersonic spycraft.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the agency in charge of submitting UAP assessments to Congress, declined to comment on the report’s contents.
The intelligence office works with a newly formed Pentagon bureau known as AARO, which stands for the cryptically named All Domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
In June 2021, the first such defense-intelligence UAP report to Congress looked at 144 sightings by US military aviators dating back to 2004, the majority of which were documented with multiple instruments.
One incident was attributed to a large, deflating balloon; the rest was determined to be beyond the government’s ability to explain without further investigation.
In May of this year, senior defense intelligence officials testified before Congress that the number of UAPs officially cataloged by the Pentagon’s newly formed task force had risen to 400.
At the time, they stated that there was no evidence that any of the sightings were of alien spacecraft, but the majority of the UAP reports remained unresolved.
Among them was a video released by the Pentagon of enigmatic airborne objects observed by Navy pilots that displayed speed and maneuverability beyond known aviation technology while lacking any visible means of propulsion or flight control surfaces.
According to Gough, observed phenomena are frequently classified as “unidentified” simply because sensors were unable to gather enough information to make a positive attribution. She also adds that they are working to mitigate future shortfalls and ensure they have enough data for their analysis.
The latest Pentagon assessment will be released soon after a first-of-its-kind panel organized by NASA launched a separate, parallel study of unclassified UFO sighting data from civilian government and commercial sectors on Oct. 24.
After the first recorded UFO sighting that dates back to 1639, long before the era of planes and satellites, there are some intriguing UFO mysteries that have yet to be solved. From the 1853 sighting by a group of students and professors on the Tennessee College campus to the oft-reported Stephenville Lights case in 2008, over 200 witnesses saw the UFO, including three police officers who remained anonymous.
Furthermore, NASA has yet to discover any credible evidence of extraterrestrial life. However, NASA has long been exploring the solar system and beyond to help us answer fundamental questions, such as whether we are alone in the universe, most recently with the powerful James Webb Space Telescope, which has already detected the presence of molecules in the atmosphere of an alien planet, Wasp-32b.
Back in 1961, astronomer Frank Drake devised an equation to estimate the likelihood of alien life’s existence, taking into account a variety of factors such as the average number of planets capable of supporting life and the fraction that could go on to support intelligent life. This was then put into effect in 2001. As a result, hundreds of thousands of such planets should theoretically exist.
So, even if we don’t know the truth about whether the UFOs we are talking about exist or not, one thing is for sure: “We are not alone; there are millions of billions of trillions of us around.”