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Popular Conceptions of Unidentified Flying Objects Can Undermine Scientific Inquiry
  • Jacob Haqq-Misra,
  • Ravi Kopparapu
Jacob Haqq-Misra
Blue Marble Space Institute of Science

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Ravi Kopparapu
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) appear frequently in science fiction and other public depictions of extraterrestrial technology. Recent interest in understanding UFOs, also known as Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP), has increased due to a recent report published by the U.S. Department of Defense that confirmed the detection of several UAP. However, actually identifying such objects remains challenging because “sociocultural stigmas and sensor limitations remain obstacles to collecting data on UAP” according to the report. In this presentation, we discuss the challenges posed by popular conceptions of UAP to genuine scientific inquiry using examples from Carl Sagan’s archives. This discussion is intended to engage astrobiologists in thinking critically about the differences between scientific inquiry of a genuinely unknown phenomenon and non-scientific popular speculations about the identity of UAP.