WASHINGTON D.C.: This week, NASA's Administrator Bill Nelson announced the appointment of the new research chief without disclosing the person's identity after the independent panel of experts recommended, in a new report, that the agency must increase its efforts to gather information on "unidentified anomalous phenomenon" (UAP) and play a more prominent role in helping the Pentagon detect them.
UAP are better known as unidentified flying objects (UFO).
During a news conference, Nelson also said that, in his personal opinion, life exists beyond Earth.
"There is a global fascination with UAP. On my travels, one of the first questions I often get is about these sightings. And much of that fascination is due to the unknown nature of it," Nelson said.
"If you ask me do I believe there is life in a universe that is so vast that it is hard for me to comprehend how big it is, my personal answer is, 'Yes,'" he added.
However, he said the chances that aliens have visited Earth are low.
Comprising experts in areas ranging from physics to astrobiology, the NASA panel was formed in 2022 and held its first public meeting in June 2023.
"The NASA independent study team did not find any evidence that UAP have an extraterrestrial origin, but we do not know what these UAP are," Nelson said, adding that a goal of the agency is to "shift the conversation about UAP from sensationalism to science."
In an interview with Reuters, Nelson said he does not know the new director's name.
Dan Evans, senior research official in NASA's science unit and a study team member, said, "Harassment that other panel members had received from the public during their work was 'in part' why the new director's identity was being kept secret."