Take Me to Your Leader—Mark McInerney
In response to a recommendation set forth by an independent study team, NASA has committed to assuming a more formal posture vis-à-vis humankind’s understanding of Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP)—known formerly and less equivocally as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). For purpose imbuing the undertaking with a caricature of legitimacy, the agency has appointed Mark McInerney to the lofty office of Director of UAP Research.
In a 14 September 2023 press release, NASA asserted it had commissioned the independent study to “better understand how the agency can contribute to ongoing government efforts to further the study observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as balloons, aircraft, or as known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective.”
NASA warned the study and resultant report ought be construed neither a review nor an assessment of previous UAP incidents.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated: “At NASA, it’s in our DNA to explore – and to ask why things are the way they are. I want to thank the Independent Study Team for providing insight on how NASA can better study and analyze UAP in the future.”
Mr. Nelson added: “NASA’s new director of UAP research will develop and oversee the implementation of NASA’s scientific vision for UAP research, including using NASA’s expertise to work with other agencies to analyze UAP and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to search the skies for anomalies. NASA will do this work transparently for the benefit of humanity.”
McInerney previously served as NASA’s liaison to the Department of Defense, a capacity in which he covered limited UAP activities for the agency. In the newly-created director role, he will, ostensibly, centralize communications, resources, and data analytical capabilities to establish a robust database for the evaluation of future UAP. He will also be tasked with leveraging NASA’s expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and space-based observation tools to support and enhance the broader governmental initiative on UAP—such as it is.
Since 1996, McInerney has served in various positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and the National Hurricane Center.
Overall, the independent study team recommended NASA utilize its open-source resources, extensive technological know-how, data analysis techniques, federal and commercial partnerships, and Earth-observing assets to curate a more comprehensive and robust dataset pertaining to UAP—a dataset supportive of the U.S. federal government’s ongoing efforts to frame the possibility of extraterrestrial life in a politically advantageous construct.
In keeping with the study team’s recommendations, NASA will henceforth address UAP with a more open, objective, and dispassionate tenor, thereby destigmatizing interest in and the study of such occurrences and advancing citizen reporting thereof. The agency will engage with the general public and commercial pilots in hopes of building a broader, more reliable UAP dataset by which to identify future UAP incidents.
Nicola Fox, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. remarked: “Data is the critical lifeblood needed to advance scientific exploration, and we thank the independent study team members for lending NASA their expertise towards identifying what available data is possible to understand the nature and origin of future UAP. The director of UAP research is a pivotal addition to NASA’s team and will provide leadership, guidance, and operational coordination for the agency and the federal government to use as a pipeline to help identify the seemingly unidentifiable.”
The independent study team’s report was predicated upon unclassified data deriving of civilian and government entities, commercial data, and data from additional sources.
David Spergel, president of the Simons Foundation and chair of the UAP independent study team, stated: “Using unclassified data was essential for our team’s fact-finding, open-communication collaboration, and for upholding scientific rigor to produce this report for NASA. The team wrote the report in conjunction with NASA’s pillars of transparency, openness, and scientific integrity to help the agency shed light on the nature of future UAP incidents. We found that NASA can help the whole-of-government UAP effort through systematic data calibration, multiple measurements, and ensuring thorough sensor metadata to create a data set that is both reliable and extensive for future UAP study.”
The UAP independent study team consisted of 16 individuals, the expertise of which spanned diverse disciplines relevant to the potential academic study of unidentified anomalous phenomena. NASA commissioned the study to examine UAP from a scientific perspective and create a definitive means by which to employ the data and tools of science to further humanity’s understanding of UAP.