A Nasa report on “unidentified anomalous phenomena”, popularly known as UFOs, has suggested ways for the US government to detect flying objects, including mobile apps through which the public can report sightings.
It is the first report published by the agency following the formation of a panel in June last year to examine the phenomena, after the US Defence Department released videos of UFOs during a congressional hearing.
Released online on Thursday, the 36-page document says that existing technology limits the way UFOs can be detected due to “poor sensor calibration and lack of multiple measurements”.
“This is the first time Nasa has taken concrete action to study UAP,” Nasa administrator Bill Nelson said during a briefing on the report.
“There are billions of galaxies and each of them, including our own, has billions of stars.
“If you ask me if there is life in a universe that is so vast it is hard to comprehend – my personal answer is yes.”
But he said that so far, there is no proof that UFOs have an “extraterrestrial origin”.
How the public could play a role
The report said that the public could form “a critical aspect of understanding UAP”.
It also suggested that mobile apps can be used to report sightings all over the world.
“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,” it said.
Nasa argued that it could use also a variety of existing and planned technology to study UFOs.
These include Earth observation satellites and remote-sensing technologies to detect mysterious objects.
Countless UFO sightings reported over the years
Nasa said that about 100,000 UFO sightings by pilots, air traffic controllers and other aviation staff are received per year.
Over the past 47 years, Nasa's Aviation Safety Reporting System has received a total of 1,940,000 reports.
Last year, a UFO was seen over Iraq and a declassified video of the sighting was released.
In the footage, an object can be seen moving near an MQ-9 drone, which attempts to follow the fast-moving object with its camera.
The object appears to be silver in colour and metallic.