Statements about sightings at the US Capitol put aliens back in the news. Here’s what astrophysicists and astrobiologists are saying about the true nature of the sightings
The unsolved unknowns of the Manises UFO that forced the emergency landing of an airplane
The US Congress experienced a day last Tuesday that could easily be described as eccentric. For the first time in more than fifty years, it was hosting an official public hearing on unidentified flying objects (UFOs), what the US government calls ‘unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs).’ At the meeting, senior Defense Department officials discussed the sightings, which they described as “frequent and ongoing.” And they announced their intention to more systematically classify and characterize this type of phenomenon.
The House Intelligence Committee hearing responds to a growing interest from lawmakers for the Pentagon to provide regular explanations for these mysterious encounters. Last year, a report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged the existence of 144 records of UFO sightings between 2004 and 2021 by American pilots.
Of these, about twenty described images or objects that behaved in a way that seemed to exceed currently known technologies. Most, witnesses claimed, were moving at high speeds “with no discernible form of propulsion.”
One of those encounters, especially striking, was reported by Commander David Fravor. As he explained to ‘The New York Times’, in November 2004 he was flying through the Pacific Ocean more than 100 kilometers from the West Coast when he spotted an ovoid shape 12 meters long and whitish in color that floated about 15 meters above ground. the sea. As the fighter approached, the object maneuvered as if trying to catch up. But suddenly “it sped up like nothing I’ve ever seen before and disappeared in a very weird way.”
The Pyramid UFO
Taking his testimony as sincere and regardless of the real nature of what Fravor saw, it is not easy for pilots to make these types of statements. His prestige, his abilities or his mental stability may be called into question. During the opening of the hearing on Tuesday, the president of the committee, André Carson, denounced that the professionals who bring these experiences to light have been stigmatized for a long time, so they “avoided informing or laughed at them when they did”. . According to Carson, Defense Department officials “relegated the issue to the back room, or swept it under the rug entirely, fearful of a skeptical national security community.” These phenomena “are real and need to be investigated,” he said. The question is, is it really necessary to return to the UFO issue? Hadn’t we outgrown the flying saucer craze that started in the 1940s?
«When we started talking about lights and radar signals, the scenario was that of the Cold War. Then the United States Air Force created Project Blue Book, a series of studies that compiled all the cases. They found nothing. They concluded that these phenomena did not pose any problem to the security of the US and that they were caused by causes of natural or conventional origin”, explains Javier Armentia, director of the Pamplona Planetarium.
Javier Armentia: «Most cases are atmospheric balloons, birds, plastic bags, mirages…»
For the astrophysicist, most of the cases collected since 2005 can be explained in a conventional way. «They are atmospheric balloons, flocks of birds, plastic bags, mirages, a car on a distant road that due to the peculiarities of the atmosphere is seen in another way… There are only a few inexplicable ones, but simply because there is not enough information» , he says.
Some of the declassified footage and images, obtained by US Navy fighters with thermal imaging cameras that observe in infrared, are especially striking. In one of them, that of the famous ‘pyramid UFO’ in which a phosphorous green triangle appears, «you can see the typical oscillation of the security light of a commercial airplane. Also, that triangular shape can be the shutter of the camera itself. In fact, other points that are stars also appear triangular”, reasons Armentia.
In her opinion, the reports only collect data but no exhaustive explanation: «It has not been investigated calmly, everything has been done to the gallery. The good thing is that a standard form has been created to report sightings, but taking them to the Capitol means magnifying them. This all reminds me of Steve Carrell’s ‘Space Force’ series.”
But what interest can the US Congress have in dealing with these matters? Armentia recalls the involvement of real estate and aerospace tycoon Robert Bigelow, founder of the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS), and a close friend of the late Nevada Senator Harry Reid. Bigelow took a nice chunk out of the $22 million UFO search program sponsored by Reid, then the Senate majority leader.
David Barrado, Professor of Astrophysical Research at the INTA-CSIC Astrobiology Center, believes that the fact that these sightings are publicized and explanations are requested is due to internal factors of North American politics and external factors of international politics. “Defensive policy is changing. They need to justify extra funding to protect themselves from phenomena that are perceived as threats because they are not understood », he points out.
Regarding the nature of the images, “with all the certainty that science can have, they are not extraterrestrial visitors. Whatever it is, it is a terrestrial phenomenon, human or not. But the UFOs are neither visiting us nor spying on us », he assures.
What Barrado is convinced of is that extraterrestrial life is not going to be discovered by a fighter with a radar that is going around. “If there is life outside of Earth, which there probably is and probably in many places, it will be very primitive or bacterial, and very difficult to detect,” he stresses. The possibility of an extraterrestrial civilization, however, “is very slim.” In decades of searching “we have found no signal, which means either there are very few (civilizations) in our galaxy or there are none and we are the only ones, at least in the vicinity of the Sun,” he concludes.
Because if it is already “difficult” for extraterrestrial life to have evolved into something similar to us, “I would bet my life that it is impossible for them to have traveled here,” says Barrado bluntly. “Astrobiologists are eager to detect a biological signature outside the planet: on Mars, on the moons Enceladus or Europa… We are developing technologies to identify and study them, but science follows very precise guidelines to validate these results and we do not launch the bells on the fly looking for extra funding or political support,” he says.
Carlos Briones, a researcher at the CSIC-INTA Astrobiology Center, explained himself in a similar way in an interview with this newspaper on the occasion of the publication of his book ‘Are we alone?’ (Review). “So far we have no evidence that life exists outside of Earth, but the Cosmos is so immensely large and there are such a large number of stars (approximately one followed by 23 zeros in the known region of the Universe) that the chances that Let’s not be alone are overwhelming,” he said. Of course, “it is highly unlikely that there are other intelligent lives, and that they are also at the right distance for us to establish contact.”
The perfect Storm
Little green men, lights in the sky over empty highways, abductions, and flying saucers that look like Friesbees or pot lids seem like things from a more naïve and gullible society, but the power of some modern myths cannot be underestimated, even in the internet age. Precisely the web can act as a magnificent disseminator of the most delusional ideas.