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Commercial remote sensing systems could be another source of high-quality UAP-relevant data, as high-resolution, high-cadence imagery captured by dense satellite constellations could resolve UAP events. For instance, commercial constellations provide daily (or more frequent) cadence imagery, at sub- to several- meter spatial resolution. However, integrating anomalous events across platforms, including radar data and commercial downward looking satellites, is an expensive exercise.

In addition to integration, data curation is also an important part of the scientific approach. Currently, studying even a single UAP event requires a heavy lift in retrieving data (and metadata, when available), which at the moment is entirely manual. It cannot be automated due to the poor organization and curation of the data. Organized data repositories are needed to facilitate automation in retrieving UAP data—and therefore, to facilitate the systematic, scientific approach to studying UAP. NASA's extensive experience in data calibration, cleaning, curation, management, and distribution, and its practice of making all of its data accessible to the public, could be leveraged to set up curated data repositories for the study of UAP. These repositories could include data from NASA assets that are suitable for the study of UAP, as well as crowd-sourced data from NASA-related platforms.

Curated public repositories of UAP data would facilitate data mining (or knowledge discovery from data) by scientists and citizen scientists. Several platforms built for analyzing scientific data have led to historical scientific discoveries. For example, the Galaxy Zoo, a platform that collects astrophysical data and enables citizen-scientist projects, led to the discovery of Boyajian's Star—a star with unique and peculiar fluctuations in brightness that at one point was considered a potential signature of alien technology. Years later, the star's behavior was understood to be the work of a disk of disrupted comets.

A strategy that encourages citizen analysis of UAP data would bring an element of transparency to the field that could help combat biases, preconceived skepticism, and mistrust of authorities. Opening the analysis to a large audience would also improve robustness: Multiple competing but independent teams, working on solving science's biggest questions, provide an additional layer of verification. As an example, the unexpected finding that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate (because of the mysterious force that we now call "dark energy") is a good example of how that might work. In the 1990s, two independent teams simultaneously found evidence for the accelerating cosmos using data that had been collected and analyzed independently.

Analyzing UAP Data

When searching for a signal in data, scientists often have to separate and extract it from a complex background of signals produced by unrelated phenomena—commonly referred to as simply "background," noise, or clutter. Therefore, when looking for rare and unusual events, a common strategy is to search where there is little background noise. For example, neutrino experiments are often conducted underground (e.g. the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, IceCUBE in Antarctica); most particles cannot reach those depths because they are absorbed by the Earth. Meteorite hunters are often most successful in Antarctica—any rock found on top of a glacier is an interesting object.

In contrast, the airspace near military sites is a challenging place to search for UAP: human aircrafts, drones, balloons, and other objects, are all significant sources of background.

Geographically, sparsely occupied airspaces—such above the South Pole—may offer a low background environment for UAP searches. But UAP are poorly understood, and it's not clear whether limiting the search geographically would exclude their presence, or whether environmental phenomena could also be a significant, location-dependent source of noise. Another background-limiting strategy would be to examine astronomical plates for satellites prior to 1959, when Sputnik, the first artificial satellite of Earth[1] launched. (Although, if something unusual were to be found in historical astronomical plates, it would be difficult to verify its nature with additional data, as historical records may be incomplete, lost, intractable, not reproducible, and at best laborious to cross-reference.)


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  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576522000480