Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Nasa
NASA’s independent UFO study is officially underway.
The nine-month Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) study began on Monday, according to a news release from the agency.
The study focuses “on unclassified data only” and will result in a “full” public report, which NASA expects to release in mid-2023, according to Friday’s post.
The team is made up of 16 people, including former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, and chaired by Simons Foundation President David Spergel, NASA said.
Daniel Evans, deputy deputy associate administrator for research in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, is leading the study.
RELATED: NASA’s Webb Telescope Captures Incredible, Never-Before-Seen View of the Pillars of Creation
“Understanding the data we have on unidentified aerial phenomena is key to helping us draw scientific conclusions about what is happening in our skies,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Missions Directorate at the headquarters of the NASA in Washington, in the press release on Friday.
NASA first announced its intention to conduct an independent study of UAPs in June.
At the time, Zurbuchen called it “high-risk, high-impact” research during a speech at the National Academies of Science.
“We don’t mind reputational risk,” Zurbuchen said, according to The Associated Press. He also acknowledged that some might see the move as a “sort of sellout” by NASA.
Never miss a story – subscribe to Free PEOPLE Daily Newsletter to stay up to date on the best that PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to gripping human interest stories.
On Friday, NASA said its new independent study team will aim to “lay the groundwork for future study of the nature of UAPs for NASA and other organizations” by identifying how existing data “can potentially be analyzed. to shed light” on the unidentified objects.
UAPS “are of interest to both national security and aviation safety” according to NASA.
“Establishing which events are natural is a key first step in identifying or mitigating these phenomena, which aligns with one of NASA’s goals to keep aircraft safe,” the space agency said in June.
RELATED: Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann says the view of Earth from the space station is “absolutely overwhelming”
The previous month, Congress held its first hearing on UFOs in half a century. During his testimony, Ronald Moultrie, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said military officials were encouraged to report anything unusual they saw in the sky, according to the AP.
“We want to know what exists as much as you want to know what exists,” Moultrie explained at the time. “We get the questions not just from you. We get them from family and we get them night and day.”