Reporting Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP)

Many UFO sightings around the world might be attributed to natural phenomena, such as 'sprites' that zip across the atmosphere. Sprites are emitted near the tops of thunderclouds and reach up into the ionosphere (40-95 km range).
Credit: University of Alaska, Fairbanks

The Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP)  project has been launched to give amateur and professional astronomers and some other professionals as pilots , a formal mechanism for reporting any unexplained phenomena they observe when studying the night sky. Initiated within the framework of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), the Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP) Observations Reporting Scheme aimed to provide a global focus for sightings by astronomers, and contribute toward a better understanding of transient phenomena occurring in the atmosphere.

The project

Some of the project objectives are:

Facilitate and enable the reporting of UAP sightings and collection of related instrumental records from the Astronomical community, through questionnaires to be downloaded from a dedicated web site:
  • Approach the UAP controversial field from a professional, rational, scientific approach and without any a priori.
  • Stimulate the submission of UAP reports that would have otherwise little chance to surface, encouraging witnesses to come forward with testimonies. We hope to greatly reduce individuals’ reluctance of reporting a UAP sighting, reluctance based either on the assumption that no one will believe them, the fear of ridicule, or that nothing will be done with such reports.
  • Contribute towards the collection of instrumental and photographic records of unidentified phenomenon.
But another fascinating purpose is to help engaging with the public in discussions about the science behind what is seen in the sky, allow people to double check their sightings against the most common nocturnal and daytime misidentifications, and learn more about the various natural or man-made phenomena that can give rise to false UAP sightings.  Stimulate the general public, enthusing young (and not so young) people and prompt them to start looking upwards and outwards to make sense of their place in the Universe, to learn more , seek answers.

The website also  provides detailed information on common nocturnal and daytime misidentifications, such as sightings of satellites, weather balloons, rockets and natural phenomena such as meteors, planets, ball lightning, sprites and mirages. An important tool to help understand certain phenomena that are seen and reported many as not unidentified, when,  in fact are some known natural or man-made phenomena.

From the reports received according to Philippe Ailleris , founder of the UAP project -  much are - «clearly the results of natural or man-made phenomena » -  but some cases remain unidentified. 

The astronomers

When asked about the opinion of astronomers on this phenomena , Ailleris, explained that- «  it depends if you refer to UFO. If you think about starting a discussion about potential extraterrestrial visitors, then obviously the topic will rapidly be disregarded. The main reason being that it is very difficult to imagine, based on our physics, the speed of light and the distances between our planet and the next stars, that something like this actually takes place. Moreover, no astronomer, has detected so far any sign of such arrival…However, if you take a more balanced approach, then my opinion is that astronomers and in general the scientific community are not against any unexplained phenomena. As long that someone does not take a position without any evidence, they are open to a dialogue. It serves no purpose whatsoever to contact this community and asking them what they think about UFOs. Most of them will immediately think that you want them to comment on the popular image of it, the possibility of extraterrestrial vehicles coming visiting us.
This is pure speculation, it is nice to talk about the topic with them about the general notion of intelligent life in the universe, the Fermi paradox, others planets, etc…but that’s all. It does not help making more interesting and attracting the study of UFOs.»

The controversy

Acknowledging the controversy surronding UFOs , Ailleris agrees that is not helpfull to the understanding of this phenomena that is real. As  example he mentioned Sprites , so-named
by a University of Alaska scientist inspired by the creatures in Shakespeare's "The Tempest," have been observed since the 1800s, though rarely visible from the ground. Aircraft pilots began reporting sightings of sprites in the 1950s and '60s, some as UFOs, they were not formally identified until 1989 when the Space Shuttle (STS-34) recorded the flashes as it passed over a thunderstorm in northern Australia and today its known that sprites are generated by major lightning strikes.

Sprites over thunderstorms in Kansas on August 10, 2000, observed in the mesosphere, with an altitude of 50-90 kilometers as a response to powerful lightning discharges from tropospheric thunderstorms. The true color of sprites is pink-red. Click on images to enlarge. Credit: Walter Lyons, FMA Research, Fort Collins, Colorado

The roots of the controversy, stated Ailleris - « stems from the fact that ufologists want to debate on the topic without much to offer» -a more scientific approach  is needed- « The controversy relates to the way that the topic is dealt with. It is contaminated by the popular idea that it concerns the possibility of aliens and little green men coming visiting us in their flying saucers. This does not look serious to a majority of people, and is considered as pure entertainment for the general public. This is further fuelled by the fact that these notions represent business for the media industry and some actors, some ufologists. Obviously the roles of governments and agencies have not been really so transparent, which has allowed the propagation of all sort of rumours.»

A suposed UFO photographed in France 2009. Analisys shows a patern
that indicates the presence of something natural e.g. a pollen grain. Credit: UAPreporting.org

This project will allow to gather information in a manner that will contribute toward a better understanding of transient phenomena occurring in the atmosphere based o scientific grounds.
Ailleris has developed a questionnaire that requests precise details of the sightings, including the location, time, elevation, velocity, apparent size and distance of the UAP, as well as a description of the terrain and weather conditions at the observation point and any sketches, photos, audio or video footage. A short and long version of the questionnaire in English and French can be downloaded from a dedicated website, uapreporting.org.

We would like to thanks Mr. Phillipe Ailleris for the time given to assist on this article.
Sérgio Sousa

Further reading an excellent article at : http://www.espi.or.at/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=614:13-

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