by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 02, 2015
An international team of scientists, engineers, and other professionals have launched an innovative approach to the study of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), commonly known as UFOs. The goal of the project is simple: to create a systematic science of UFO phenomena. The project, named "UFO Detection and TrAcking" (UFODATA for short), was conceived and is led by Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of the Center for UFO Studies, and Alexander Wendt, a political scientist at Ohio State University.
"It has become clear that any breakthrough in our understanding of the UFO phenomenon will require a break from the past. Witness testimony, photos and videos, and government documents have taken us only so far; instead, we need to record and study UFOs directly, as other sciences do with their own specific objects. Of course, this is a daunting task, but it is made conceivable by advances in technology, software, communication capabilities, and power sources," said Mark Rodeghier, UFODATA board member.
The great majority of UFO reports can be easily identified as misperceived stars and planets, balloons, other atmospheric phenomena, or birds or insects in cell phone photos, among many terrestrial sources. The UFODATA project instead is interested in the small, but potentially significant, remainder of reports that cannot be so easily explained.
Importantly the project does not assume that these unexplained reports are caused by extraterrestrial intelligence; the project has the goal of simply learning more about the characteristics of truly puzzling sightings and following the science, wherever it leads.
UFODATA aims at deploying a crowd-funded global network of automated surveillance stations that would monitor the skies 24/7 looking for UFOs, and collect as much physical data as possible about any that appear.
In the past a few pioneering scientists have built individual stations that could record some limited data. What sets their project apart is that it will take advantage of the internet and new surveillance technologies to build an entire network of stations that can take multiple sophisticated measurements simultaneously. "Only then can we begin to move toward a rational answer to the UFO question," said Philippe Ailleris, UFODATA board member.
"As with any real phenomenon, UFOs - whatever they might be - can be studied scientifically so long as we have the proper equipment to measure their physical characteristics. Broadly speaking, it is most important to measure the type and intensity of radiation being emitted by a UAP. This radiation may be detected directly from the phenomenon, as with the light from a light bulb, or it may be detected from its effect on its surroundings, such as ionization of the surrounding atmosphere by the radiated energy.
"The simultaneous use of photometric, spectroscopic, magnetometric and radio-spectrometric (VLF-ELF and UHF) instrumentation and consequent measurements coming out can allow us to obtain important physical information on the phenomenon.
"The way in which it changes (intensity at all wavelengths and amplitude of spectral lines if present, for instance) with time or with wavelength on the short timescales might help us to understand something important about the physical mechanism that animates the observed phenomenon: in fact this is exactly the same procedure that we use when we do astrophysical research on celestial bodies of whatever nature.
"For instance, just this methodology helped us to understand the physical mechanism with which objects such as Cepheid stars, pulsars and quasars work. Therefore we are going to use astrophysical methodology in order to carry out research on light anomalies appearing in our atmosphere, where we expect to obtain an optimum signal-to-noise ratio due to the predictably high luminosity of the phenomenon and its relative closeness to the observer.
"In such a way - with precise numbers in our hands - we are in a condition to select very carefully truly anomalous cases from cases that can be explained by prosaic causes," explained astrophysicist Massimo Teodorani, a member of the UFODATA science team.
The project's website contains details on the technology they plan to use in these stations, a listing of team members, an FAQ answering many common questions they anticipate about their plans, and an extensive set of resources on the scientific study of UFOs. They have produced two interesting videos to explain the principles of spectroscopy and what can be learned about a UFO from its spectrum. They also, importantly, are looking for technically-qualified volunteers in several areas, listed on the Volunteer page of the website.
"We believe that the current scientific, technical, and social environment is primed to support such an endeavor as UFODATA. We expect to build on the best work of the past and do what the scientific community as a whole has failed to do: take UFOs seriously and study them rigorously," said Alexander Wendt, UFODATA board member.
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