How Experts Evaluate Your UFO Sightings

On October 21, NASA appointed sixteen independent experts (professors, astronauts, science journalists and oceanographers) to investigate “unidentified aerospace phenomena”, UAPs, better known as UFOs.

The formation of this NASA study group came after several sequences on the subject of UFOs, including, in particular, in 2020, the declassification of archival videos of the American Navy and the American constitution Department of Defense group UAPTF (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force), then in July 2022 the creation of AARO (All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office): the anomaly resolution office for all domains, which depends on the Ministry of Defense .

The group set up by NASA had the mission to study useful data and techniques for analyzing the strange phenomena observed during the nine months. It will also assess relevant air hazards and formulate recommendations for follow-up to be issued.

Geipan, who has been in charge of UFOs since 1977

This work is of particular interest to Geipan (Group for the study and information on unidentified aerospace phenomena), a service of the National Center for Space Studies (CNES), which investigates UAPs on French territory in for forty-five years. . Geipan was invited to present its activities and working methods to the independent working group on the NAP led by NASA.

Created in 1977 by CNES, Geipan consists of a team of four people responsible for collecting testimonies, surveys, publishing studies, IT and structural steering. It is a technical service of CNES that works with external staff, skills and facilities: about twenty investigators and about twenty experts, all outside CNES, as well as many institutional partners (Air Force , National Gendarmerie, National Police, CNRS, Météo-France , Civil Aviation).

The existence of this “UFO office” has also been popularized in recent years of the series UFO(s). of Canal+, which, although it is a fiction, showed some real equipment used by Geipan to investigate – such as SimOvni, useful in reconstructing the observations described by witnesses.

Rebuilding the SimOvni device in the series UFO(s). | Screenshot by Canal+

What is NAP now?

An unidentified aerospace phenomenon (UAP) is a strange, often bright event observed in the sky by witnesses that seems inexplicable.

In more than 60% of cases, UAPs have simple explanations: they are Asian lanterns, balloons or hot air balloons, airplanes, satellites, meteorites, stars, planets, etc. This may seem simple, even common as an explanation, but it is important to emphasize that every observation made always shows a peculiarity, a peculiarity, an amazing or unusual aspect that prompted the witness to make a report. Thus Geipan receives 700 reports per year, of which 150 to 200 investigations are opened. Everyone can access the testimonial questionnaire on the website.

The environment and the observation setting can contribute to the oddity: for example, poor lighting, the absence of noise, atmospheric disturbances that make the star twinkle or the Sun’s reflection on a plane.

The observation can be awe-inspiring at times, such as entering the atmosphere of meteorites. Another atypical example: placing in orbit the constellation of Starlink satellites gives many reports on the line of very bright points and a luminous sphere.

The series of points are the 50 to 60 satellites when they were put into orbit. They are observed at sunset or sunrise, when the sky is dark and the star is visible to satellites. For the bright globe, it’s the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which puts satellites into orbit. The operation that lasts from one to two seconds creates a bubble of gas which, illuminated by a sunset or sunrise, shows a bright globe at night. A shiny point, sometimes in the shape of a butterfly, accompanies this sphere. This is the passivation of the second stage of the rocket. The latter loses oxygen and kerosene before re-entering the atmosphere.

Observation of the Falcon 9 rocket being rebuilt at Geipan. | Geipan witness, provided by the author

Observation can also be misunderstood: a novice astronomer observing a bright flash in the sky with high-quality images, for example. Consumer astronomy applications do not have enough data to find the explanation: in this case, only the internal expertise of CNES, the space monitoring service, will highlight the presence of a rocket on the floor where the beam of the sun can be seen.

Furthermore, watching a candle lantern go off can be very much imagined as something escaping at breakneck speed!

To explain strange or misunderstood observations reported to us, we have many tools and applications in different fields: aeronautics, aerospace (satellites and debris), astronomy (stars and meteorites), meteorology, image processing, etc.

The observed phenomena are explained in about two-thirds of the cases. But it happens that we have too little information to analyze the testimony and to make an explanation: it concerns about a third of the cases reported to us.

For about 3% of the cases, the “D cases”, we have enough information, but we haven’t found an explanation. All the hypotheses formulated and tested were unsatisfactory.

The Geipan method

The goals of Geipan are therefore clear: to give or try to give a rational response to the misunderstanding, unusual, sometimes amazing observations, and to explain the strangeness seen by a witness.

For this, our activity includes three main stages: the collection of testimonies, the conduct of technical studies and the publication of evaluation reports on the Geipan site while preserving the anonymity of the witnesses.

The mission begins with collecting a testimony. This is a questionnaire filled out on our website or a police report. This data is always very specific. It can be based on photos or videos, but it is always composed by a person. As with a scientific measurement, this data contains “measurement noise”, which varies greatly depending on the person reporting the event to us. Sometimes this is very good, but interpretations or even distortions may arise related to the presence of feelings, memories or beliefs. Therefore, our first task is to filter out this noise, in an effort to extract and use only realistic data.

Subsequently, the study of testimony improves the consistency (quality and quantity of information) of the observation and reduces its uniqueness. For this, we use the Geipan computer database and many applications and technical software. They are tools for the general public, but the expertise carried out by our partners is also very important, especially the Air Force (return of aircraft trajectories from radar measurements), Météo-France (accurate meteorological conditions) and internal to CNES (very precise tracks of satellites and debris).

Sometimes we are called to conduct a field survey. This allows us to more precisely study the observational setting and conduct a cognitive interview of the witness. The purpose of this interview is to deepen the testimony and bring out as much reliable information as possible without disturbing or tainting the testimony. This is a real Geipan knowledge set and taught by our expert psychologist. For our most difficult cases, our committee of multidisciplinary experts meets to advance the study and then collectively decide on the conclusion to be drawn.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *