In January of 2019, The Daily Galaxy asked, why is that of the tens of thousands of reports of UFO’s since the iconic radio broadcast of Orson Welles “War of the World’s” terrified the nation in 1938, have none been reported by astronomers manning the observatories across our pale blue dot?
Is it because some leading astrophysicists such as Great Britain’s Martin Rees and Paul Davies at Arizona State University, who believe that advanced alien civilizations may be a billion or more years older than the human species have technology that would be unrecognizable by our primitive means?
In December of 2013, astronomers using RadioAstron, a 10 meter radio telescope in an elliptical orbit around the Earth, discovered a spacecraft orbiting the Earth that wasn’t in their database and quickly informed the world about their discovery. Just as quickly they determined that it was actually an object that just happened to have been overlooked by their database, and announced the resolution to the issue.
What did not happen, says Penn State astronomer Jason Wright, tongue in cheek, “is that NASA sent its goons to quiet the astronomers, or phone calls to the POTUS to send national security officers to red alert 5, or astronomers quickly opened up Photoshop to destroy the evidence.”
“Now, I don’t expect this example to convince hard-core UFOlogists who engage in highly developed conspiratorial thinking,” Wright adds, “but I hope it sheds some light for others on the chasm between popular misconceptions of how extraterrestrial UFO’s might be real, and the reality of our understanding of all those lights in the sky.”
Unlike the world’s astrophysics community, Luis Elizondo, former head of a clandestine government operation called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP) revealed in September of 2018: “Disclosure has already occurred. Disclosure is not an event, it’s a process. My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”
Not since 1947, when the US army said it had found a crashed UFO near Roswell, New Mexico, but in fact proved to be a weather balloon had the government come so close to admitting we are not alone in the vast reaches of the Milky Way.
Is the U.S. military finally coming around to the idea that alien spacecraft are visiting our planet? “The answer to that question is almost certainly no,” writes Iain Boyd, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan and as a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board in The Conversation.
Late 2017 when it was revealed by the New York Times and Washington post that the Bigelow Aerospace was paid by the Pentagon to store parts recovered from crashed “unidentified aerial phenomena” — military-speak for UFOs — exotic materials believed to be alloys that defied scientific analysis and physically affected those who came into contact with them.
But to date, there has been no retraction of the latest story of Pentagon UFO intrigue. Questioned about the events, the Pentagon has maintained an information blackout, as has Bigelow Aerospace.
The strange story of the salvaged UFOs began with the abrupt resignation last autumn of a senior Pentagon official, reports Nick Rufford for The Times of London. Luis Elizondo was the head of a hitherto unknown government operation called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), run by a team of 12, based on the fifth floor of the Pentagon called C-ring.
In a parting letter to Jim Mattis, the former US defense secretary, Elizondo said the government was not taking sightings of unidentified craft by American warplanes seriously enough.
“Why aren’t we spending more time and effort on this issue? There remains a vital need to ascertain capability and intent of these phenomena for the benefit of the armed forces and the nation.” Elizondo’s leaked letter blew the lid off what was, in effect, a clandestine government UFO-watching unit, infuriating the Pentagon’s top brass. In a terse statement, the Pentagon admitted the existence of AATIP without mentioning the UFO connection: the program, it said, was set up “to assess far-term, foreign advanced aerospace threats to the United States”, it said, and was discontinued in 2012 to make way for “other higher priority issues”.
“Based on my prior experience as a science advisor to the Air Force,” U.S. Air Force advisor Boyd writes, “I believe that the Pentagon needs to better understand flying objects that it can’t now identify. During a military mission, whether in peace or in war, if a pilot or soldier can’t identify an object, they have a serious problem: How should they react, without knowing if it is neutral, friendly or threatening? Fortunately, the military can use advanced technologies to try to identify strange things in the sky.”
“Situational Awareness” –The New Rules, Says Boyd
“Situational awareness” is the military term for having complete understanding of the environment in which you are operating. A UFO represents a gap in situational awareness. At the moment, when a Navy pilot sees something strange during flight, just about the only thing he or she can do is ask other pilots and air traffic control what they saw in that place at that time. Globally, the number of UFO reportings in a year has peaked at more than 8,000. It’s not known how many the military experiences.
Even the most heavily documented incidents end up unresolved, despite interviewing dozens of witnesses and reviewing many written documents, as well as lots of audio and video recordings.
UFOs represent an opportunity for the military to improve its identification processes. At least some of that work could be done in the future by automated systems, and potentially in real time as an incident unfolds. Military vehicles – Humvees, battleships, airplanes and satellites alike – are covered in sensors. It’s not just passive devices like radio receivers, video cameras and infrared imagers, but active systems like radar, sonar and lidar. In addition, a military vehicle is rarely alone – vehicles travel in convoys, sail in fleets and fly in formations. Above them all are satellites watching from overhead.
Sensors can provide a wealth of information on UFOs including range, speed, heading, shape, size and temperature. With so many sensors and so much data, though, it is a challenge to merge the information into something useful. However, the military is stepping up its work on autonomy and artificial intelligence. One possible use of these new technologies could be to combine them to analyze all the many signals as they come in from sensors, separating any observations that it can’t identify. In those cases, the system could even assign sensors on nearby vehicles or orbiting satellites to collect additional information in real time. Then it could assemble an even more complete picture.
For the moment, though, people will need to weigh in on what all the data reveal. That’s because a key challenge for any successful use of artificial intelligence is building trust or confidence in the system. For example, in a famous experiment by Google scientists, an advanced image recognition algorithm based on artificial intelligence was fooled into wrongly identifying a photo of a panda as a gibbon simply by distorting a small number of the original pixels.
So, until humans understand UFOs better, we won’t be able to teach computers about them. In Boyd’s view, the Navy’s new approach to reporting UFO encounters is a good first step. This may eventually lead to a comprehensive, fully integrated approach for object identification involving the fusion of data from many sensors through the application of artificial intelligence and autonomy. Only then will there be fewer and fewer UFOs in the sky – because they won’t be unidentified anymore.
The Daily Galaxy, Cole Chapman, via Why Is the Pentagon Interested in UFOs/The Conversation