The US Congress is holding a public hearing tomorrow (May 17) on reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) bordering our skies, and you can watch the proceedings live.
Last year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted to Congress a preliminary report on UAP that conveyed the progress of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Working Group has done in understanding mysterious phenomena. (In recent years, the term UAP has replaced the more familiar “unidentified flying object“or UFO.)
That helped lay the groundwork for tomorrow’s hearing on UAP, which will be held under the House Intelligence Committee’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. The two-hour hearing begins at 9 am EDT (1300 GMT); you can watch it live here on Space.com or directly through the House intelligence committee.
Tomorrow’s event comes five months after a National Defense Authorization Act required the military to establish a permanent office to meet and discuss the UAP issue. That document also called for an annual report and semi-annual briefings for Congress.
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first level witnesses
“The American people expect and deserve that their leaders in government and intelligence seriously assess and respond to any potential national security risks, especially those we do not fully understand,” said Rep. André Carson (D-Indiana), who will monitor the hearing. in a statement last week. “Since coming to Congress, I have focused on the issue of unidentified aerial phenomena as a national security threat and a major concern of the American public.”
The hearing will feature two top-tier witnesses: Ronald Moultrie, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official, and Scott Bray, deputy director of Naval Intelligence.
That new office to investigate UAP, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG), was created within the Moultrie office. Bray’s involvement makes sense, given that Navy pilots, among others, have high profile UAP sightings during the last two decades.
Carson’s intent is that the hearing “provide the American people with an opportunity to learn what there is to know about these incidents.”
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Wait and see
Space.com reached out to several leading UAP/UFO researchers about their expectations and views on what may happen at the hearing.
“In general, I’m in a ‘wait and see’ mode regarding hearings. It’s great to have any kind of hearing on UFOs/UAPs, but two hours will hardly be enough to scratch the surface,” said Mark Rodeghier. , the scientific director of the Center for UFO Studies.
Rodeghier said his main concern is simply whether the two officials who will testify will be adequately briefed on the ongoing work of the newly formed AOIMSG. “Especially the efforts of whoever is staffing and running that organization to collect data from a wide range of government sources,” she told Space.com.
“I don’t expect any findings at this stage,” Rodeghier said, “but I would be pleased to hear about the progress being made in creating a robust, science-based effort to investigate UFOs.”
That effort should focus on what these aerial phenomena might be, Rodeghier said. For example, are they probably unknown drones flying around Navy ships? Or could they be something more exotic, perhaps vehicles that could be tracked by sensor systems that cover space?
Robert Sheaffer is a leading UFO skeptic researcher. He pointed out that people forget that the congressional hearings on UFOs were also held 54 years ago.
“The ‘UFO experts’ put forth the same claims they were already making elsewhere,” Sheaffer said of those earlier hearings. “No one ‘revealed’ anything, and no one learned anything new.”
Sharing a similar view is Mick West, a debunker, skeptic, writer, UFO researcher, and Metabunk.org administrator, as well as a former video game programmer.
“I’m not anticipating much, basically a continuation of what was in the UAP report,” West said. “They will talk about the creation of the AOIMSG group, the establishment of procedures and processes, security issues and coordination.”
West feels that during the hearing, those testifying will be asked why they are taking so long, and the witnesses will assure the committee that things are on track, but staffing is a problem.
“My view is that the questions that are asked in the hearing are going to be key,” said Robert Powell, a member of the executive board of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies. “Scientific questions and answers are needed to reach a resolution on the origin of the phenomenon.”
Powell said one outcome of the hearing could be that a former Space Command official be announced to lead the AOIMSG.
“If that rumor is true, it begs the question of why such an individual would be put in charge of an organization if his primary concern with UAP was really Russian and Chinese drones,” Powell said. “Exciting times.”
Collect and analyze data
UFO hearing may well push the frontiers of science with government data, said Avi Loeb, director of Harvard. Galileo Projecta systematic scientific search for evidence of extraterrestrial technological artifacts.
in a opinion piece for The Hill, a US political website that covers Congress, Loeb noted that UAP has replaced UFO in the researchers’ lexicon, and with that change, observed phenomena are viewed more like data.
“At this upcoming hearing, my sincere hope,” Loeb said, “is that the following question will be asked: Can we get the highest quality UAP data to the scientists who will methodically and quantitatively analyze it?”
Loeb said the lack of “extraordinary evidence” is often self-inflicted ignorance. “We could discover the nature of UAP before we understand dark matterIf only we were brave enough to collect and analyze UAP data publicly, according to the scientific method.”
Concluding his op-ed, Loeb said he hopes the US government will continue to push the scientific frontiers of our knowledge. “Future cooperation between government and science will help us understand the unknown. And exploring the unknown is the spiritual light that illuminates our journey in search of knowledge about distant destinations from the familiar rock we call land.”
Leonard David is the author of the book “Moon Rush: The New Space Race,” published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on twitter @Spacepointcom or in Facebook.