The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA has created a 16-person team to review unexplained aerial phenomena (UAPs). The team, which comprises an astronaut, a space-treaty drafter, a boxer, and several astrobiologists, will be led by Astrophysicist David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation.
According to NASA, the team members will work for nine months to study declassified data on UAPs, strange observations of objects acting in ways, unlike anything we’ve seen before. But, until the study is made public in mid-2023, NASA says nothing will be revealed.
UAPs are classified as such because of their confusing behavior in the sky, which does not correspond to known aircraft or natural occurrences. Could UAPs be aliens? NASA has already released a statement explaining that this project is not about proving or disproving the existence of extraterrestrial life but rather about identifying the origin or source of these anomalies.
In June, NASA clarified that “there is no evidence UAPs are extraterrestrial in origin.” The space agency chooses to highlight its search for extraterrestrial life when it publishes new information about the new UAP study.
NASA’s research which will pave the way for future UAP studies will commence with the brainstorm phase, where team members will analyze observations that civilian government entities and commercial data have gathered. Subsequently, they’ll explore ways to collect future data. After the report is out, NASA will hold a public meeting to discuss its findings.
What Are Unidentified Aerial Phenomena?
In 2004, the U.S. Navy jet’s Forward-looking Infrared (FLIR) camera system caught a flying object reaching a speed of around 138 miles per hour and an altitude of 28,000 feet. The clusters flew too slowly to be conventional aircraft, too high to be birds and did not follow any known flight route. The camera’s resolution was too low to get details of the object; hence, they were declared UAPs.
The US Navy in May 2022, reported that a recently established Pentagon task team has officially recorded 400 incidents of UAPs.
As said by Moultrie, who oversees the latest Pentagon-based UAP investigation team as U.S. defense undersecretary for intelligence and security, “We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena, and because UAP pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we are committed to a focused effort to determine their origins.”
Unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, are just what they sound like — unidentified flying objects that can’t be explained. This broad definition can include everything from alien spacecraft to weather balloons to plain old airplanes.
UFOs are often associated with alien spacecraft. The term is widely used for claimed observations of extraterrestrial craft by witnesses but has been more recently used to refer to any unusual sighting of an object or light in the sky.
UAPs are frequently associated with UFOs. However, there is a distinction: UFOs are particular objects, whereas UAPs are any witnessed occurrence in the sky that cannot be named. Both have sparked great attention over the last decades because of their alleged ties with aliens even though there is currently no proof that UAPs are extraterrestrial, at least NASA says so.
One of the reasons UAPs remain a mystery is that, historically, any information regarding UFOs and UAPs was kept hidden, leaving the public in the dark. While NASA’s mission aims to research UAPs and is not necessarily related to aliens, NASA has yet to completely dismiss the idea that there could be another life outside of earth.
The agency has a very active astrobiology program to study signs of life in outer space. They’ll be using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, Hubble Space Telescope, and James Webb Space Telescope to explore and examine signs of life and biosignatures on distant exoplanets.
Where Technology Meets Astronomy
Astronomers have been using technology for centuries to help them better understand the universe. We’ve come a long way from early telescopes to today’s digital cameras and scientific instruments.
Telescope facilities are strategically located in geographical areas with the best probability of recreating previous UAP claims. Most of these telescopes are designed for visual and photographic applications, but they are all limited by the amount of light they can gather from distant objects. This means they cannot fully resolve faint objects like UAPs unless they are very large or bright (known as “limiting magnitude”).
Presently, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is the most advanced. It is a gigantic space telescope NASA launched into space back in 1990. The optical-based device photographs planets, stars, and galaxies. It has observed galaxies trillions of kilometers away and even comet fragments colliding with the atmosphere above Jupiter.
But now we’re at an exciting point in history: A new generation of technologies is being developed that will allow us to explore space in new ways that change how we see the universe and ourselves.
When examining new data from telescopes, AI systems can distinguish between natural – like birds and artificial – like drones and airplanes. But more can be achieved using quantum sensing. Several types of quantum sensors can detect magnetic fields, time, distance, temperature, pressure, rotation, and other observables.
Quantum sensing is a branch of quantum optics that studies how to detect and measure small changes in the state of a physical system using quantum phenomena. Quantum sensors are extremely sensitive and can provide information with high accuracy because they monitor how a particle interacts with its environment.
When we think of astronomy, we imagine a telescope capturing photons– optical, infrared, or radio. However, gravitational waves can be used to investigate the universe using an interferometer.
Interferometers divide light into two beams and then reflect them together again. When the two beams are recombined, they create an interference pattern that depends on the distance between the mirrors used to split them apart. The interference pattern can be observed visually or captured on film so that it can be analyzed later.
The interference pattern can change if a gravitational wave ripple passes the interferometer in one direction and is somewhat extended while passing in the opposite direction. Even if the difference is small, it will point to the presence of a gravitational wave.
The capacity of the interferometer to measure is restricted by the difference in photon arrival timings inside the light beam. Some photons arrive at the detector before others. Scientists can limit the spread in the arrival timings of these photons by combining entangled photons, a process known as “photon squeezing.”
Photon squeezing is based on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which says that it is impossible to have precise knowledge of the position and speed of a particle, such as an electron or photon. Using this technology, interferometers like LIGO and Virgo can detect vibrations 100,000 times smaller than an atomic nucleus.
Photon squeezing was applied to LIGO and Virgo interferometers by a team of scientists in 2019. The scientists squeezed the time distribution width in the LIGO and Virgo detectors by producing pairs of photons using an optical parametric oscillator. The pairs were quantum mechanically entangled and had correlated arrival times at the detector, narrowing the width of the time distribution.
With quantum squeezing, LIGO could detect 50% more objects and Virgo 20% more objects. However, due to the nature of the uncertainty principle, LIGO and Virgo scientists must take higher radiation pressure noise, which degrades the effectiveness of the gravitational wave detectors. As quantum technology advances, this challenge can be addressed, and quantum squeezing will become a practical approach to space study.
Stimulated Raman Adiabatic Passage
Australian and Singaporean researchers developed a new quantum approach that might improve optical Very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI). STIRAP allows quantum information to be transported without loss.
Current baseline imaging systems work in the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. To achieve optical interferometry, all portions of the interferometer must be stable to within a fraction of a wavelength of light for the light to interfere, which is extremely difficult to do over long distances due to noise.
STIRAP works by transferring optical information between two suitable quantum states using two coherent light pulses. When applied to VLBI, it would enable efficient and selective population transfers between quantum states while minimizing noise and loss.
STIRAP, when imprinted into a quantum error correcting code, could help scientists make VLBI observations at inaccessible wavelengths. Combined with next-generation sensors like quantum sensors, this approach might allow for more precise investigations of black holes, exoplanets, the Solar System, and UAPs.