NASA announced Thursday it has appointed a new director of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) research in an effort by the space agency to better understand what it describes as “one of our planet’s greatest mysteries.” 

The new position, according to NASA, will “centralize communications, resources and data analytical capabilities to establish a robust database for the evaluation of future UAP,” which is the government’s terminology when referring to UFOs. 

“NASA’s new director of UAP research will develop and oversee the implementation of NASA’s scientific vision for UAP research, including using NASA’s expertise to work with other agencies to analyze UAP and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to search the skies for anomalies,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “NASA will do this work transparently for the benefit of humanity.” 

The announcement of the new position came after NASA says it commissioned an independent study involving 16 experts from fields ranging from astrobiology to oceanography to “better understand how the agency can contribute to ongoing government efforts to further the study observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as balloons, aircraft or as known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective.” 

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Workers pressure wash the NASA logo on the vehicle assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., in May 2020.  (REUTERS/Joe Skipper)

“At NASA, it’s in our DNA to explore — and to ask why things are the way they are. I want to thank the independent study team for providing insight on how NASA can better study and analyze UAP in the future,” Nelson added. 

The identity of the new director has not been publicly revealed. Dan Evans, assistant deputy associate administrator for research within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said part of the reasoning for keeping the person’s identity withheld is the constant harassment team members have faced that “rose to actual threats of violence” since they began this undertaking.

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Bill Nelson in Washington, DC

Bill Nelson, seen here testifying in Washington, D.C., in April 2021, said Thursday “NASA’s new director of UAP research will develop and oversee the implementation of NASA’s scientific vision for UAP research.” (Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)

“The NASA independent study team did not find any evidence that UAP have an extraterrestrial origin, but we don’t know what these UAP are,” Nelson said Thursday at a news conference, according to Reuters. 

NASA also announced Thursday it will “advance citizen reporting by engaging with the public and commercial pilots to build a broader, more reliable UAP dataset to use to identify future UAP incidents as well as destigmatize the study of UAP.” 

NASA UAP study members

These are the 16 members of NASA’s unidentified anomalous phenomena study. (NASA)

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In a foreward of the report issued by the independent study team Thursday, Nicola Fox, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, wrote, “unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) are one of our planet’s greatest mysteries.” 

Fox News’ Chris Eberhart contributed to this report. 

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