UFO answers coming soon?

Could the world soon get answers to its burning UFO questions? In December 2020, U.S. senator Marco Rubio asked the Pentagon to investigate UFOs, or UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena), as they’ve been rebranded in U.S. military jargon. With the help of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his request called for an unclassified report on everything government agencies know about UAPs within six months. That includes the scores of unusual sightings reported by military pilots. And the six-month stretch is almost up. The report is due in June 2021, and Rubio seems eager to see it.

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes reporter, Bill Whitaker, Rubio said:

I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously. I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in. There [should] be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn’t.

Scientists, Pilots and UFOs

It’s in the nature of scientific thought that hypotheticals – for example, the notion that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft – require proof. And, so far, there is no scientific proof that aliens from other planets have traveled across the vastness of space to visit Earth. Astronomers know that the most UFO sightings aren’t truly “unidentified.” They stem from people’s lack of experience with looking at the night sky. For exmaple, many UFO sightings are really sighting of the brightest planet, Venus.

On the other hand, many have seen viral videos of the common UAP encounters with U.S. Navy pilots over the past few years. In these videos, some UAPs even appear faster and more maneuverable than the newest, most advanced aircraft in America’s military fleet. One of the most popularized examples was nicknamed the Tic Tac. In a 2004 video, the recording of a tiny, agile, ellipse-shaped UAP was apparently taken aboard a Navy fighter jet from the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Like the other videos featured on May 17’s episode of 60 Minutes, Pentagon officials have confirmed that the video was filmed by naval aviators.

What is Tic Tac?

Tic Tac was one of three UAPs caught on video that Christopher Mellon – who served as U.S. defense secretary for intelligence – declassified for the New York Times. In 2017, after he had left his position with the government, the Times published a story about the videos. It also reported on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a Pentagon project tasked with investigating such sightings. Mellon told 60 Minutes that he took these steps out of concern that not enough was being done to investigate.

He said to Whitaker:

It’s bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda.

Rubio added:

Anything that enters an airspace that’s not supposed to be there is a threat.

UFO threat to national security?

It’s possible that the reported UAPs are some kind of advanced aircraft developed by an adversary nation such as Russia or China. In that case, they really are a threat to national security. However, experts have also suggested that the sightings might arise from issues with the Navy jets’ instruments (although pilots report seeing the UAPs with the unaided eye as well).

Lue Elizondo – a former military intelligence officer – emphasized how the subject of UAPs or UFOs has gone from frivolous to serious inquiry. According to the Washington Post, Elizondo was involved in a secret Department of Defense meeting held in the Capitol building. He runs the unit that later emerged from the meeting, called the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. Its mission “is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security,” according to the Pentagon.

Elizondo said in an interview with the Post:

We are now relying on military and intelligence-collection capabilities to collect the data and then try to interpret the data. This is not a conversation about how grandma saw some lights in the backyard and then people wind up scratching their heads wondering what it was … We’re seeing these things on a daily basis. The longer we keep a lid on it, the more problematic it becomes. It actually works against our interests to keep a cork on this.

People like Rubio, Mellon, and Elizondo say they hope that an explanation will shut down any threats, if those threats are indeed from earthly nations, not other worlds.

Gullible UFO stories?

In the midst of the revived interest in UFOs or UAPs, some astronomers are rolling their eyes. They’ve seen interest in this subject wax and wane, with no real proof either way. Veteran astronomy educator Andrew Franknoi of Foothills College sent around an email on May 22, 2021 titled A Resource Guide for Dealing with the Current Flood of Gullible UFO Stories. In it he wrote:

Like many scientists, I have been discouraged by the recent flood of credulous stories about UFOs as mysteries related to extraterrestrials. From the New York Times, to the New Yorker, to 60 Minutes, the stories follow and credit the same people (untrained in science or photographic techniques) ballyhooing the same misunderstandings … Even President Biden was asked about UFOs at his press conference.

Working with the UFO subcommittee of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (and such astronomers as David Morrison and Seth Shostak), I have assembled one-page guide to skeptical information and resources about UFOs. The page is available free at: http://bit.ly/ufoskeptic (all lower case).

Of particular interest for the recent UFO claims are the explanatory videos by Mick West, and the blog entries by Robert Sheaffer.

Bottom line: In December 2020, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio asked the Pentagon to investigate UFOs. With the help of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his request called for an unclassified report on everything government agencies know about UAPs. The report is due in June 2021.

UFO resources and links

This content was originally published here.