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better understanding of the possible threats that UAP may represent—either as flight safety hazards or as potential adversary collection platforms. This is partially due to reduced stigma surrounding UAP reporting.

The negative stigma that impacts reporting rates in turn impacts the study of UAP. In testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee on February 15, 2023, the Acting FAA Administrator was asked about the process for civilian reporting of balloons. The Administrator, who is also a pilot, indicated that the protocols and reporting of balloons may be spotty. Thus, even as such reports are being encouraged, there are still barriers to reporting observations. For example, how or where should someone make a report? Will the reporter be believed or shamed? Will any action be taken to understand the event?

NASA could play an important role in destigmatizing the UAP reporting process. NASA's long-standing public trust, which is essential for communicating findings about these phenomena to the public, is also crucial for destigmatizing UAP reporting. The scientific processes used by NASA encourage critical thinking and skepticism; within this framework, there should be no credulous acceptance of unlikely reports with unlikely explanations. NASA can model for the public how to approach a topic, such as UAP, by applying transparent reporting and rigorous analyses.

Further, the NASA brand is trusted, global, and positive, representing science, curiosity, and technological achievement in the face of adversity. NASA serves as an example of professionalism and leadership in technological advancement. The NASA logo is enough to generate interest and credibility; studies of things that were previously fringe moved into the mainstream when NASA became involved. Prominent examples of NASA's involvement in public life include slogans like "NASA is with you when you fly," which promote aviation safety. In turn, every U.S. commercial aircraft and every U.S. air traffic control tower has NASA-supported technology on board.

NASA's public announcement of its UAP Independent Study Team membership was met with interest and spurred both positive and negative feedback. At least one scientist serving on the study team reported receiving negative (hate) mail from colleagues due to their membership. Others were ridiculed and criticized on social media. Study Team members also noted firsthand knowledge of colleagues who were warned to stay away from research in areas like extraterrestrial technosignatures, which could damage their scientific credibility and promotion potential. These experiences further confirm the negative stigma associated with studying unusual or unexplained phenomena. Such criticism, either by detractors or by proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, are anathema to the scientific method, which NASA always has and will continue to promote in an objective and open-minded fashion.

As a Federal agency, NASA can make it safer for researchers to explore data within the civilian aerospace domain by starting that work within the Agency itself. NASA can look at how civil data is shared, study how reporting can be incentivized, and help to engage the community. For example, NASA can rally the civil space community through requests for information, by convening conferences, by offering grand challenges, and other activities.

Many Federal, state, local, private, and other domestic and international partners collect data and observations that could be relevant for understanding UAP. As an example, NASA's potential to study the universe is enhanced through partnerships with other agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DoE), which are currently building facilities such as the Vera C. Rubin Observatory that will generate data that may be useful for understanding UAP in space. NASA's ability to study Earth is enhanced through partnerships with NSF, which supports Antarctic research. The Antarctic is a superb environment for collecting meteorites. With its low level of human activity, it is a low "clutter" environment for identifying anomalies. Such sparsely occupied airspaces may offer a low background environment for UAP searches; however, it is unclear as to whether or not constraining the search geographically would exclude their presence, or whether environmental phenomena could also be a significant, location-dependent source of noise.

The Federal partnership between AARO and NASA already provides a foundation for a collaborative examination of UAP events. In addition, NASA and AARO should engage other agencies, as appropriate and as needed.