The US space agency NASA has appointed a director for UFO research. NASA announced this on Thursday on the occasion of the publication of an expert report that recommends a greater role for the space agency in researching unidentified flying objects. The new director position will be taken over by Nasa representative Mark McInerney, who previously maintained contact with the US Department of Defense on the subject of UFOs.

NASA initially did not make public who would fill the new position. This makes it clear how controversial the field is – and how many emotions it can lead to. “We need to ensure that scientific processes and methods are free,” said Daniel Evans, one of the expert panel members. “Some of the threats and harassment are, quite frankly, completely unacceptable.”

NASA later sent out an updated press release introducing McInerney as the new NASA UFO research director.

The space agency announced last year that it would analyze observations that cannot be clearly identified – for example as technical or natural phenomena. While UFOs have long fascinated the public, science has often hardly taken the topic seriously or even avoided it.

“It’s in NASA’s DNA to explore – and to ask why things are the way they are,” said the head of the space agency, Bill Nelson, when presenting the expert report. “We want to shift the conversation about UAP from sensationalism to science.” UAP is the English abbreviation for the term unidentified airspace phenomena, which is now used by the US authorities instead of the term UFO (unidentified flying object).

The 16-person team of experts commissioned by NASA writes in its report that checking UFO sightings requires, among other things, “new and reliable methods for collecting data” and “advanced analysis techniques.” “NASA, with its extensive expertise in these areas and its global reputation for scientific openness, is in an excellent position to contribute to UAP studies.”

In their report, the experts emphasize that NASA has a variety of instruments for observing the earth and space and is developing new instruments. The space agency also has a “comprehensive archive of historical and current data sets.” In this way, NASA can check whether certain environmental conditions, for example in the Earth’s atmosphere, are related to UFO sightings.

Experts are skeptical about the question of whether UFOs could be an indication of extraterrestrial life. This should always only be the “final hypothesis”.

The US secret services presented an eagerly awaited report on UFO sightings in the summer of 2021. It evaluated 144 reports from the military about sightings between 2004 and 2021. Only in one case was there an explanation for a sighting: According to the report, the flying object was probably a large, deflating balloon.

There were no indications of possible extraterrestrial life in the report. The existence of aliens is not explicitly ruled out either – the nine-page report left the topic out.

The extent to which the topic of UFOs and extraterrestrials fascinates became clear on Tuesday in Mexico: In the Mexican parliament, a self-proclaimed UFO expert presented two alleged alien mummies. The demonstration elicited shaking heads and numerous amused comments.