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NASA to Study UFOs!

Scientists at NASA hope to find out more about the strange stuff people have seen in the sky.

Two pilots sit in a cockpit and see a UFO fly in front of them.

© Onyxprj/,  © Alvin Cadiz/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Have you ever seen something flying high in the sky and thought, “What IS that?” If so, you’re not alone. Many people have spotted what are called unidentified aerial phenomena (also called UAPs or UFOs). Now, scientists from NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) are going to investigate. 

In the fall of 2022, NASA will begin a study to learn more about UAPs. The goal of the study is to look at what we know about UAPs and figure out how to learn more. Why study UAPs? Hundreds of pilots have reported seeing flying objects that haven’t been identified or explained! 

Does that mean hundreds of alien spaceships have visited Earth? It’s not likely, scientists say.

When something is called a UAP or a UFO, it simply means that there’s something in the sky and there’s no explanation for what it is. Yet many people read reports about UAPs and believe that they came from outer space. Some people assume UAPs must belong to aliens. NASA scientists say they don’t share that assumption. They say there are many possible explanations for what people have been seeing. 

Scientists say there’s a lot they still don’t know about events that happen in the universe—even in our own sky. NASA scientists hope to learn more.

“We have the tools and team who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown,” said Thomas Zurbuchen of NASA. “That’s the very definition of what science is. That’s what we do.”

United States Navy

Many pilots have reported seeing strange objects in the sky. Here is just one UAP sighting!

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Did You Know?

Green alien with a large head sitting on the surface of a planet and looking out at space.

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Is there life on other planets? It’s possible! Scientists have found many stars that have planets revolving around them, just like our Sun. Scientists are looking for planets that have what it takes to support life as we know it. A livable planet needs water, and it can’t be too hot or too cold. If such a planet is out there, something may be living on it!

Is Anyone Out There?

© Topgeek/, © Seamartini/, © MicrovOne—iStock/Getty Images Plus; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

If there are aliens somewhere in the universe, why haven’t we met them yet? There are a lot of possible explanations. Here are just a few.

  • Maybe life on other planets isn’t intelligent. For example, another planet may be home to tiny, microscopic creatures that are hard for us to find and not intelligent enough to contact us.
  • Maybe intelligent aliens live really far away. The universe is huge. Maybe aliens have sent signals to Earth, but they haven’t reached us yet.
  • Maybe aliens are more advanced than we are. They could be trying to contact us, but we just don’t understand the form of technology they’re using.
  • Maybe aliens know about us but aren’t interested in contacting us. They could be a little afraid of us. Or maybe they just don’t want to disturb our way of life.
  • Maybe life once existed on another planet, but it got wiped out by an asteroid or climate changes.
  • Maybe we just haven’t been searching long enough. The technology needed to help humans look for signs of life in space has been around for only about 60 years.

It’s possible that Earth has the only life in the universe. But considering how big the universe is, scientists say we’re probably not alone.

What Did I Just See?

Animated GIF of a girl with a backpack looking through a telescope as a glowing green orb floats in the sky

© PCH-Vector—iStock/Getty Images Plus; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Whether you call them UAPs or UFOs, some weird stuff has been seen in the sky!

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Part of speech:



: strange, unknown, or difficult to understand

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