Many unidentified aircraft could be “from other places on earth,” Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen has claimed
So-called Chinese “spy balloons” may be mistaken for extraterrestrial craft, former NASA Science Mission Directorate deputy head Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen has told The Telegraph. Zurbuchen remains convinced that something is out there, but warned that “unfriendly” technology from Earth is a likely explanation.
“The fact that there are unexplained phenomena is not a question for me,” Zurbuchen told the British newspaper on Saturday. “What they are and what they mean, and how we prove they exist is something that needs more work.”
As NASA’s longest-serving associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Zurbuchen chaired the agency’s Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) panel last year. The panel examined hundreds of accounts from witnesses who claimed to have seen mysterious flying objects, but did not conclude that any were of extraterrestrial origin.
“There could be multiple explanations,” he said. “If we are looking at technology then it may not be friendly and that is something we should know. It could be technology from other places on Earth and that would be pretty scary.”
Several months after the panel convened, US fighter jets shot down a high-altitude balloon off the coast of South Carolina. The Pentagon referred to the craft as a Chinese “spy balloon,” although Beijing maintained that it was a civilian airship that had drifted off course. Three other similar balloons were spotted over the US around this time, but none were linked to China.
“The whole balloon phenomena we cannot ignore because if we ignore what we see then we will suddenly get surprised,” Zurbuchen said.
Zurbuchen also suggested that natural phenomena “like luminescent clouds, or something we’ve never seen before,” could explain some sightings, while others could be written off as “some kind of camera problem.”
Some testimony is less easily explainable. A former US Navy fighter pilot who witnessed a tic-tac shaped craft perform impossible feats of aerobatics off the coast of California in 2004 insisted that the object was not man-made. Another pilot stationed on the same aircraft carrier said that she saw the object drop 80,000ft (just under 25,000m) in less than a second, and travel dozens of miles in seconds. Video footage of the encounter was leaked in 2017, but denied by the Pentagon until it was declassified three years later.
“The way that the navy pilots were ridiculed I felt for them,” Zurbuchen told The Telegraph. “I’m convinced they were telling the truth about what they saw. The most important scientists like Einstein went through a time where traditional science ridiculed them.”
The Pentagon created its own UAP tracking unit last year, but has not announced any evidence of alien activity. However, a veteran intelligence officer told a Congressional hearing last month that the US military has been in possession of “non-human” spacecraft and the remains of alien pilots for several decades. The Pentagon has firmly denied his claims.