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Does the Pentagon believe in aliens?

By Sophie – on in News, Space

We have been looking up at the skies and wondering about extraterrestrial life for thousands of years. H. G. Wells sent a shiver up our spines with his War of the Worlds by tapping into the feeling many of us have that we are not alone in the universe. As for the US government, it appears less credulous. It is adamant that Area 51 is an entirely typical Air Force facility and has always been quick to quash any whiff of an unidentified flying object (UFO) conspiracy theory. However, it seems that the US government is also looking up at the skies and wondering ‘what if?’ In fact, an entire program, the AATIP, was established by the Pentagon to study UFOs and the former head of this division has some fascinating insights to offer.

What on Earth (and beyond) is the AATIP?

The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP, was founded by the Pentagon in 2007. Its objective was to investigate any threats found in our skies. While the program was officially ended in 2012, there is some confusion about whether it remains active as several sources have affirmed that UFOs are still being investigated by the Pentagon.

For several years, the AATIP was headed by Luis Elizondo, who resigned in 2017 in part because he felt that the government was not fully supportive of the study of extraterrestrial life and had never viewed the research produced by the AATIP sufficiently seriously.

Strange sightings

The AATIP never did see any strange beings riding in spaceships or record radio signals sent from faraway planets, but it recorded several reports of strange objects traversing our skies. For instance, Elizondo states that the observations made by the AATIP include objects travelling at impossible speeds and that lacked the associated effects of high-speed travel. Several times UFOs were observed to move at hypersonic speed, that is, at a speed five times that of sound. Yet, these sightings were not accompanied by sonic booms, for example, which should be observed when objects move at such speeds. The AATIP concluded that the UFOs it observed did not have wings or engines and appeared to function outside the laws of gravity.

Typically, the AATIP observed UFOs that moved in a way that appeared to contradict our understanding of the laws of physics. In particular, these objects were abnormally mobile. According to Elizondo, some of the UFOs observed were seen undergoing gravitational forces, G-forces or simply G’s, at levels that humans and contemporary machines simply could not withstand. Elizondo states that the AATIP team saw UFOs travel fast enough to pull 400-500 G’s. In comparison, the most sophisticated US planes can only hold together at 16-18 G’s.

So, are aliens on their way?

Despite the strange objects the AATIP team has seen in our skies, Elizondo does not suggest that we are about to witness an invasion of extraterrestrial beings, quite the opposite. A large number of the UFOs observed by the AATIP were ultimately explained and identified as aerial machines or missile tests or simply as missiles, planes or other aerial machines seen from an unusual angle. Moreover, those objects that remain unidentified are most likely not extraterrestrial and there is no compelling evidence to back up the hypothesis that the UFOs sighted were from other planets.

However, Elizondo has made the point that if these high-tech objects are not extraterrestrial, who is responsible for them? Technological advances made by other countries could pose a greater risk to the US than alien technology. If other nations are finding ways to create devices that can withstand extraordinary G’s and not emit a sonic boom when they move faster than the sound of speed, the US government needs to know about it. Elizondo thus argues that we should be watching the skies and informing people of what is being observed, even when we aren’t sure what we’ve seen. In short, it is essential that we know what is zooming around above us whether it is extraterrestrial or not.

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Sophie

Sophie holds a bachelor's degree in biology. She has always been passionate about literature and writing, which is why she likes to write scientific articles for Get-Science whenever she has the opportunity. Although her favourite subject is biology (of course!), she is also interested in astronomy as well as the environment.