Pentagon admits running secret UFO investigation for five years

Task force that investigated sightings of unidentified flying objects ran from 2007 to 2012 with annual budget of $22m

According to its backers, the UFO program remains in existence

The Pentagon has acknowledged that it ran a secret UFO investigation program for five years, wrapping up in 2012 when US defence officials shifted attention and funding to other priorities.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that the program, tasked with investigating sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, ran from 2007 to 2012 with $22m in annual funding secretly tucked away in US defence department budgets worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Its initial funding came largely at the request of former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat long known for his enthusiasm for space phenomena, the newspaper said.

Yet according to its backers, the program remains in existence and officials continue to investigate UFO episodes brought to their attention by service members, the newspaper said.

The Pentagon openly acknowledged the fate of the program in response to a Reuters query.

“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe,” Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Ochoa said in an email.

“It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change,” she said.

But the Pentagon was less clear about whether the UFO program continues to hover somewhere in the vast universe of the US defence establishment.

“The DoD takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed,” Ochoa said.

What is less in doubt is former senator Reid’s enthusiasm for UFOs and his likely role in launching the Pentagon initiative to identify advanced aviation threats.

“If you’ve talked to Harry Reid for [more than] 60 seconds then it’s the least surprising thing ever that he loves UFOs and got an earmark to study them,” former Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said in a message on Twitter.

Or as Reid himself said in a tweet that linked to the Times’ story: “The truth is out there. Seriously.”

Digital holograms – 3D images recorded using lasers – may be our best bet for finding alien life, scientists say. No probe since NASA’s Viking program in the late 1970s has explicitly searched for extraterrestrial life. Rather, the focus has been on finding water.

Plumes water ice and vapor spray from many locations near the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, as documented by the Cassini-Huygens mission. (Source: NASA)

Digital holograms – 3D images recorded using lasers – may be our best bet for finding alien life, scientists say. No probe since NASA’s Viking program in the late 1970s has explicitly searched for extraterrestrial life. Rather, the focus has been on finding water.

Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus has a lot of water, but even if life does exist there in some microbial fashion, the difficulty for scientists on Earth is identifying those microbes from 790 million miles away. “It’s harder to distinguish between a microbe and a speck of dust than you’d think,” said Jay Nadeau, research professor at California Institute of Technology in the US.

Enceladus has enormous geysers, venting water vapour through cracks in the moon’s icy shell, regularly jet out into space. When the Saturn probe Cassini flew by Enceladus in 2005, it spotted water vapour plumes in the south polar region blasting icy particles at nearly 2,000 kilometres per hour to an altitude of nearly 500 kilometres above the surface.

Scientists calculated that as much as 250 kilogrammes of water vapour were released every second in each plume. Since those first observations, more than a hundred geysers have been spotted.

Water blasting out into space offers a rare opportunity, said Nadeau. While landing on a foreign body is difficult and costly, a cheaper and easier option might be to send a probe to Enceladus and pass it through the jets, where it would collect water samples that could possibly contain microbes.

Some strategies for demonstrating that a microscopic speck is actually a living microbe involve searching for patterns in its structure or studying its specific chemical composition.

“Looking at patterns and chemistry is useful, but I think we need to take a step back and look for more general characteristics of living things, like the presence of motion,” he said.

To study the motion of potential microbes from Enceladus’s plumes, Nadeau proposed using an instrument called a digital holographic microscope that has been modified specifically for astrobiology. In digital holographic microscopy, an object is illuminated with a laser and the light that bounces off the object and back to a detector is measured.

This scattered light contains information about the intensity of the scattered light and about its phase – a property that can be used to tell how far the light travelled. With the two types of information, a computer can reconstruct a 3D image of the object – one that can show motion through all three dimensions.

To study the technology’s potential utility for analysing extraterrestrial samples, researchers obtained samples of water from the Arctic, which is sparsely populated with bacteria.

With holographic microscopy, Nadeau was able to identify organisms with population densities of just 1,000 cells per millilitre of volume, similar to what exists in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, such as subglacial lakes. That low threshold for detection, coupled with the system’s ability to test a lot of samples quickly (at a rate of about one millilitre per hour) and its few moving parts, makes it ideal for astrobiology, Nadeau said.

 

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The footage, uploaded to YouTube by the channel Section 51 2, shows a crowd of tourists looking towards the wonder of the ancient world, while three bizarre triangular objects hover above.

The video is one of the clearest ever captures of alleged UFOs, as critics often claim films of supposed alien craft are blurred or too shaky to watch.

It even shows close ups of the upside down pyramids, looking up from the base of the pyramids, as they appear to hover and rotate above three of the relics.

Section 51 2 includes no real details about the alleged sighting, but says in subtitles on the video that it was filmed in April 2016, and the UFOs were present for four hours.

An article accompanying the video on the Section 51 2 website makes no further reference to the alleged sighting in the video.

It instead discusses the Tulli Papyrus, which is an alleged ancient document which suggests that flying saucers, described as “circles of fire”, appeared over the pyramids in around 1500 BC

It also points to an “ancient astronauts” conspiracy theory which claims that the pyramids were built by our ancestors with the help of an advanced race of aliens that visited Earth thousands of years ago.

However, it is likely the video is a clever hoax made using CGI technology.

Critics have pointed out if this actually happened it would likely have made world TV news and not been consigned to one website.

Earl Verity posted on YouTube: “I wish it were true but this is not. would have been the biggest news story of mankind!”

User Kalvash posted on YouTube: “So it was there for several hours and this is the only guy to record and upload it?”

And one called Teflon12110 said: “Good CGI and light rendering but bystanders are not fascinated enough with it as well as the resolutions are off from the ‘ufo’ in comparison to the pyramid.”Section 51 2 has been outed by serious UFO investigators and hoax busters as regularly using GCI effects to add extraordinarily clear-looking UFOs to its videos.

The website and channel features on many UFO investigators “blacklists” of so-called UFO sites to avoid because of its alleged use of hoaxes, which “discredit genuine research”.

The ‘about section’ on its website suggests it broadcasts genuine footage, saying: “Sometimes we have no words to explain what we see, sometimes we can see that it’s just hoax.

“The purpose of Section 51 is to make you ask yourself these questions about UFOs… Many UFO reports from soldiers exist all around the world but some people want to hide the truth.

“Section 51 shows you UFO incidents reported by people and most of the time by soldiers in wartime.”