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'We love data': NASA wants your UFO stories for better research, to reduce stigma

NASA scientists are asking people to share their experiences of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) sightings, saying more information and research surrounding these reports could help reduce stigma associated with the topic.

"At NASA, we're scientists, we love data. We love all data. And if there is something that needs to be reported, we want people to be able to feel that they can report that," Nicola Fox, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said at a news briefing Thursday.

The space agency held the briefing to share details about its highly anticipated report on UAP, also known as unidentified flying objects or UFOs.

The report, which took a year to complete, aims to bring answers to the UAP mystery by using unclassified scientific data. Written by numerous experts from around the world, the report determined there was not enough "high-quality" evidence on UAP to explain what they are, or if they have otherworldly origins.

"At present, analysis of UAP data is hampered by poor sensor calibration, the lack of multiple measurements, the lack of sensor metadata, and the lack of baseline data," the report states. "To date, in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, there is no conclusive evidence suggesting an extraterrestrial origin for UAP."

UAP data, the report notes, could be improved by using information from technology already monitoring the skies, and even by creating a UAP smartphone app.

"The panel sees several advantages to augmenting data collection efforts using modern crowdsourcing techniques, including open-source smartphone-based apps that simultaneously gather imaging data and other smartphone sensor metadata from multiple citizen observers worldwide," the report explained. "NASA should therefore explore the viability of developing or acquiring such a crowdsourcing system as part of its strategy."

The "folklore" of UAP and life on other planets is part of the reason why the agency wrote the report.

"We all are entertained by ‘Indiana Jones’ in the Amazon and finding the ‘Crystal Skull’," Bill Nelson, NASA's administrator said of the UAP stories known to the public. "That's why we entered the arena to try to get into this from a science point."

UAP data is currently collected by technology that scans the skies, along with reporting from pilots, both civilian and military. But, as NASA notes, stigma leads some to not report UAP sightings.

"The current approach to UAP data collection has led to a limited sample of events and limited data," David Spergel, president of Simons Foundation and chair of NASA’s UAP independent study team, said at the briefing. "We know there's missing data."

To combat stigma on the topic, NASA hopes to engage the public and pilots in reporting anomalies. One way it hopes to do this is by integrating reporting of UAP in the aviation reporting system.

NASA’s study on UAP is also contributing to the "de-stigmatization" of the topic by giving it credibility, Fox explained on Thursday.

"NASA’s very involvement in UAP will play a vital role in reducing stigma associated with UAP reporting, which almost certainly leads to data attrition at present," the report stated. "NASA’s long-standing public trust, which is essential for communicating findings about these phenomena to citizens, is crucial for de-stigmatizing UAP reporting."

With files from Writer Daniel Otis Top Stories

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