The U.S. intelligence community released a much-awaited report on June 25, 2021, on what the military calls unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs. That’s military jargon for what most of us call UFOs. The U.S. intelligence report listed 144 such objects between 2004 and this year. Navy aviators sighted many of them. But the report presented no clear evidence for visitors from another planet (or any other sort of otherworldly cause). It didn’t rule out the possibility of alien visitors, either.

Among other possible causes, the report said Earth’s atmosphere might play tricks on Navy sensors. It mentioned high-tech craft from either U.S. or foreign secret military programs. The report said a “lack of data” precluded more definitive answers.

US intelligence report: What are they?

The report offered five categories of potential explanations:

Human stuff. The report said that objects made by humans – for example, balloons or even plastic bags – might be mistaken for craft on Navy sensors. One of the 144 encounters definitively characterized with “high confidence” was later was identified as “a large, deflating balloon,” the report said.

Tricks of light or water in Earth’s atmosphere. Ice crystals, moisture or heat fluctuations might have registered as a flying objects to cameras and sensors on Navy aircraft or ships at sea.

Secret American technology. Not likely, said the report, but said that, for purposes of this report, the U.S. intelligence community was “unable to confirm” classified government programs as the source of the UAP sightings.

Secret technology from foreign adversaries. The task force said it lacked the data to confirm or deny this possibility as well.

“Other.” Here’s where the traditional idea of UFOs comes in. But, much as in the categories above (related to secret U.S. or foreign programs), the report lacked the data to confirm or deny.

Senator Marco Rubio called for the report

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the vice chairman of the intelligence committee, originally called for the report in December 2020. 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. Rubio told the Washington Post:

For years, the men and women we trust to defend our country reported encounters with unidentified aircraft that had superior capabilities, and for years their concerns were often ignored and ridiculed. This report is an important first step in cataloging these incidents, but it is just a first step. The Defense Department and Intelligence Community have a lot of work to do before we can actually understand whether these aerial threats present a serious national security concern.

NASA is studying UAPs, too

Bill Nelson was sworn in as the new NASA administrator May 3, 2021. Nelson, a former Florida senator and spaceflight veteran, told CNN on June 3 that he has directed NASA scientists to become more involved.

Nelson said he wants NASA researchers to explore new lines of questioning regarding UAPs.

Astronomers are skeptical

Hard evidence is the keystone of the scientific process. Scientists would not tend to believe alien visitors are behind sightings of UFOs, or UAPs, unless they had proof. On June 18, 2021, Texas A&M University astronomer Nick Suntzeff, who has been involved with space research for 30 years, sent an email around to the media. In it he said he wished the Navy, and the media, would ask an astronomer (someone who’s experienced at observing the sky) before jumping to conclusions about any unusual sightings. He said in his email:

For starters, have you ever noticed that UAP images and videos are usually out of focus?

In the recent videos that are now getting a lot of attention called FLIR1, Gimbal, Triangle, and GoFast, for instance, let’s consider the triangular UFO. In the video you can also see other objects that are triangles. Are these sister UFOs? No. What this means is that the camera was out of focus and the camera pupil (shutter) was triangular. One person has measured the positions of the faint triangles (and one bright one) and shown that they are at the positions of the stars near the constellation Taurus and the planet Jupiter. Also, this UFO blinks in the same way a commercial aircraft does. It was taken off the coast of Los Angeles where there are lots of air traffic. It is an out-of-focus video taken with an infrared camera.

This is one example of an explanation that fits the data. Now, why did the Navy not provide this explanation? They should have asked an astronomer before releasing the video because they could have quickly shown that this an out of focus image.

Suntzeff also mentioned that, by far, the most common “UFO” sighting is the planet Venus. He said:

Once I got a phone call from an excited person who was telling me they can see a UFO right now. It is moving back and forth, and sometimes it suddenly comes closer and then moves away. I asked them if they could still see it. Yes! So I drove down to the parking lot and there was a group of people bunched together pointing up to the sky. I went over there and asked them to show me where it is. I look up there, and it is Venus. I tell them it is Venus. I look at it and it is not moving. It was twinkling a bit but otherwise, nothing unusual. As we looked, they admitted it was not moving, but I was assured that it was before I got there.

Venus is back in the evening sky. Visit EarthSky’s planet guide

“I wish we had better evidence”

More recently, astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson appeared to reiterate Suntzeff’s skepticism. He told CNN on Friday, June 25, that there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that the UAPs, or UFOs, are spacecraft from distant planets, saying:

Just because you don’t know what it is doesn’t mean you then know what it is.

Tyson indicated he personally isn’t convinced the UAPs are alien visitors, commenting:

… I wish we had better evidence than monochromatic, fuzzy Navy video.

Bottom line: A new U.S. intelligence report – released June 25, 2021 – cannot “confirm or deny” that the unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, sighted by Navy pilots are due to alien visitors.

This content was originally published here.