We need a scientific analysis of satellite data on UAP

Earlier this year, the US military and intelligence agencies released a report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs, also known as UFOs). Before the report was published, former National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe stated: “We are talking about objects seen by Navy or Air Force pilots or taken from satellite images that are frankly performing actions that are difficult to explain”. , Movements that are difficult to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for. ”

The most attention-grabbing part of this statement is the reference to “satellite images”. I – and the hundreds of scientists studying UAP – have never seen any publicly published data on it. We would be very interested in analyzing data on objects that enter the Earth’s atmosphere that do not follow ballistic orbits like meteors. However, no such data are currently available for an open scientific analysis.

Of course, Ratcliffe’s quotation is an inadequate basis for substantive scientific investigation. But unclassified data gathered from non-governmental satellites could be made available for open scientific analysis.

Advances in our understanding of the associated satellite imagery may also result from the new office recently established by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022, a coordinated effort to report and respond to UAPs, and significantly improve data sharing between authorities about UAP sightings. This new office will be jointly managed by the Minister of Defense and the Director of the National Intelligence Service and will enable military and civilian personnel as well as the intelligence services to report incidents and information related to UAP.

If the new office finds that the objects in the satellite imagery are so unusual that they cannot be created by human hands and are therefore not a matter of national security, then it would make sense to subject the data to a scientific analysis. A natural or extraterrestrial origin will be of international interest and benefit all humanity and enrich our common scientific knowledge.

In the past, protocols for possible contact with extraterrestrial intelligence were mainly inspired by the ability to detect radio signals from planets around distant stars. Given that the closest star system, Alpha Centauri, is 4.4 light-years away, such signals would take a decade or more to complete a round-trip conversation. As a result, they have no ramifications for our immediate future.

But any other type of contact could have immediate effects. They are physical objects from another civilization that are already here, waiting to be noticed like a package in our mailbox. The incoming hardware does not have to be mindless, but could have artificial intelligence (AI) that searches for information about the habitable planets around the sun.

An encounter of this kind implies immediate contact with no appreciable delay in communication time. The possibility of immediate intervention changes the response protocol relative to a delayed radio signal.

There is currently no international agreement on how humanity should deal with a visitor object of extraterrestrial origin. It would be wise to formulate guidelines before they are needed. Any engagement could have an impact on the future of mankind and should not be left to the spontaneous whims of a small team of researchers.

We should weigh the risks and benefits of different engagements. The decision tree for how to proceed has branches that depend on the properties and behavior of the objects. Because it is difficult to predict these unknowns in advance, decisions must be made in real time.

Deciphering the intent of some intelligent extraterrestrial equipment can be similar to the challenge of cracking the code on an encryption device. We may have to rely on our AI systems to find out the intent of extraterrestrial AI systems.

Correct interpretation of immediate contact with extraterrestrial technologies could bring about the most significant advance in understanding the reality around us in all of human history.

Our historical emigration from Africa began about a hundred thousand years ago, but future emigration from Earth could be triggered by a dialogue with a remote messenger who is unlike anything we have seen before.

ONEvi L.öB. is head of the Galileo project, founding director of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University, director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and former chairman of the astronomy department at Harvard University (2011-2020). He is Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Breakthrough Starshot Project and a past member of the Presidential Science and Technology Advisory Board and former Chairman of the Board of Directors for Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies. He is bestselling author of “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” and co-author of the textbook “Life in the Cosmos”, both published in 2021.

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