Frequently Asked Questions
Thank you for your interest in the UFODATA Project. You will find below some questions that are often asked. If your question is not answered here, please use our general Contact page to send us a note and we will try our best to answer your query.
- What does “UFODATA” stand for?
- How is the project organized?
- Who are the team members for UFODATA?
- Why is it important to know about UFOs/UAP?
- Why do we need UFODATA?
- Hasn’t this been done before, for example, by SETI?
- Are you attempting to detect or contact extraterrestrials?
- What kind of UAP do you expect to detect?
- How likely is it that the project will succeed in collecting data about UFOs?
- What would count as success for this project?
- Are you also going to collect UFO witness reports near the monitoring stations?
- Can I become a member of the project?
- How can I be kept updated with UFODATA news?
- What is the UFODATA overall development schedule?
- How much will the stations cost?
- What is the UFODATA overall development schedule?
- Will there be a network of stations, how many, and what is their targeted spatial coverage (region, country, continent, global)?
- How long will the project last?
- Will you partner with other organizations or projects that are also trying to study UAP scientifically?
- What instruments are to be included in the UFO monitoring station?
- Why these specific instruments and what kind of data will they record?
- What can we learn from the spectral results?
- What is the difference between this project and ones that have been undertaken previously to study UFOs scientifically?
- How does this system compare technically to existing meteor camera and sprite camera networks?
- Will the stations operate continuously (24/7)?
- Will you deploy stations as funding is available, or wait until some minimal number have been constructed before deployment?
- If I want to build and set up such a station myself, how can I do it?
- Why do you think that Crowdfunding is a good solution for financing your project?
- When do you intend to launch your crowdfunding campaign?
- How will UFODATA use revenues from donations, sponsors and merchandise?
- If I give a donation to the project today, is it tax deductible in the USA?
- Is there anything I can do to contribute besides donating funds?
What does “UFODATA” stand for?
It is an acronym for "UFO Detection And TrAcking". This acronym we felt best captured our objective of building a network of automated surveillance stations with sophisticated sensors for gathering scientific data on UFO phenomena. Plus, it’s easy to remember.
How is the project organized?
UFODATA is incorporated in the state of Ohio, and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It has a Board of Directors tasked with overall strategic planning, a Scientific Planning Committee in charge of designing and constructing our stations, and will eventually have a Board of Scientific Advisors to provide scientific oversight of the project.
Who are the team members for UFODATA?
UFODATA’s team currently consists of over a dozen volunteers – scientists, engineers, and UFO researchers with over 250 combined years of involvement in this area. Some of us already have extensive experience in fieldwork or automated scientific data collection on UFO phenomena. We are also joined by several ‘silent partners,’ all scientists and engineers at academic institutions who are prepared to help, but because of the cultural stigma attached to UFOs have chosen to keep their involvement private. See our Project Team Page for further details.
Why is it important to know about UFOs/UAP?
The origin of unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP) or “UFOs” (we use these terms inter-changeably below) is unknown, and so studying them is a ‘natural’ activity of science. Scientists study all aspects of the world, and UAP are a part of the world, whatever their cause. It is entirely possible that all UAP have conventional explanations, but given the highly unusual character of UFO reports, there is a chance that some are caused by non-terrestrial intelligence. If that turned out to be the case, then it would be one of the most important events in human history, and as such even if the odds of detecting Extraterrestrial Intelligences are low, it seems extremely important to learn as much as possible about these phenomena.
Currently our knowledge of UAP is mostly based on verbal and written reports of observations, which are not useful for scientific purposes. Thus, to move toward a scientific solution to the UFO problem, a change of methodology is necessary, in particular toward systematic instrumented observations.
Therefore, the purpose of the UFODATA project is to design, construct and deploy a network of automated stations for detecting UAP and recording physical data about their properties.
Hasn’t this been done before, for example, by SETI?
No, for both political and theoretical reasons the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) community has never studied UAP, and instead has restricted itself to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence elsewhere in the universe, primarily by using radio telescopes to look for electromagnetic signals from around distant stars that could be emitted by advanced technologies. In contrast, UFODATA takes as its point of departure the very large number of eyewitness reports worldwide since the 1940s of unusual aerial phenomena in and around the Earth’s atmosphere. One might therefore consider UFODATA a kind of “local” SETI.
However, on our Scientific Resources page you will find links to articles and websites describing past efforts at the field study of UFOs by both individuals and some organizations. These studies have succeeded in recording some photos and other data, but nothing as systematic as we hope to capture with multiple integrated and networked stations that can measure many characteristics of UFO phenomena simultaneously.
Are you attempting to detect or contact extraterrestrials?
The UFODATA project is a basic science effort to understand anomalous aerial phenomena consistent with historical reporting of unidentified flying objects. The project team makes no a priori assumptions about the nature of these phenomena, only that a better understanding of them requires systematic and reliable data as a prerequisite to analysis. If these data suggest an extra-terrestrial presence, we would publish this data in the scientific literature for the evaluation of the scientific and even political communities. Under no circumstances would we try to contact such a possible extra-terrestrial intelligence ourselves.
What kind of UAP do you expect to detect?
UFODATA stations will be designed to measure anything unusual that comes within their range. We expect that in addition to anomalous aerial phenomena we will record other rare but already known natural events, such as ball lightning, and these data will be made available to interested researchers in these areas.
How likely is it that the project will succeed in collecting data about UFOs?
UFO sightings occur regularly, in many locations all over the world. For example, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) receives over 5,000 sighting reports from just the USA every year. Nevertheless, in any one location, the chance of a UFO sighting is low. Consequently, we are planning a two-track strategy for siting the stations. Some will be placed in areas with a history of more reports (so-called UFO “hot spots”), such as the Hessdalen Valley in Norway or certain locations in the Western US. Others will be sited on a more random basis, based on practical considerations such as whether a project team member can periodically visit the station for maintenance, where there is sufficient security, and in relatively isolated locations to minimize false positive detections.
What would count as success for this project?
The main project goal is to directly record physical data – photos, videos, magnetometer readings, electromagnetic radiation, etc. – about UAP in a more comprehensive manner than has ever been done before. Whether or not our observations suggest an extra-terrestrial presence, collecting such data would show a) that UFO phenomena can be studied in a rigorous and systematic fashion, and b) thereby hopefully break down the “taboo” that has long stymied basic scientific research in this area. Read more about this taboo in Sovereignty and the UFO
Are you also going to collect UFO witness reports near the monitoring stations?
Our stations will automatically collect all data without human intervention or observers. Still, if witnesses nearby see something, we will collect their reports and correlate them with the scientific data.
Can I become a member of the project?
Yes, we are actively seeking qualified volunteers in a number of areas. Please see our Volunteer page for more information.
How can I be kept updated with UFODATA news?
Sign up for our updates here.(Top)
How much will the stations cost?
The cost of developing a prototype station, including not just the equipment, camera, and sensors, but also software, construction and testing, will be several tens of thousands of dollars. Subsequent stations will be only a fraction of this price because the design and construction details will be in place.
What is the UFODATA overall development schedule?
Our initial goal is to raise enough money to design and construct one prototype station. Including testing, we expect the prototype stage to last up to one year. After that we would fully deploy the first station and begin construction of as many additional stations as funding permits.
Will there be a network of stations, how many, and what is their targeted spatial coverage (region, country, continent, global)?
The network concept is central to the project, and the more stations in the network the better; however, even a few stations that are coordinated will be an advance on past efforts. Ideally the stations will eventually be deployed worldwide.
How long will the project last?
At a minimum we expect the project will continue for 5 years, which is the necessary time for testing, improving the system, and importantly, for collecting enough data to judge whether further investment is warranted.
Will you partner with other organizations or projects that are also trying to study UAP scientifically?
In principle yes, when this offers our work significant benefits.(Top)
What instruments are to be included in the UFO monitoring station?
The most important instruments that will be included in the prototype unit are:
- One all-sky camera with a medium-high resolution spectrographic grating;
- Several other cameras that will each cover a portion of the sky, outfitted with a high resolution spectrographic grating;
- A high-precision magnetometer;
- A VLF/ELF receiver to detect electromagnetic radiation at longer wavelengths than the visual;
- An electrostatic detector;
- A Geiger counter;
- A weather station.
Why these specific instruments and what kind of data will they record?
UAP have been reported historically to affect magnetic systems (e.g. magnetic compasses), and electronic instruments (electromagnetic effects). Many have been seen visually and would therefore be recorded through normal photographic and video cameras. Weather phenomena are both known to affect aircraft and aerial phenomena, and are also easily confused with them. Therefore, the instruments selected are among those with the highest probability of detecting unusual events.
What can we learn from the spectral results?
Visual spectra will tell us many things about UAP (see the two videos we have prepared that discuss spectrometry). For example, they can tell us what elements in the atmosphere are being ionized by the UAP, which in turn can let us calculate the amount of radiation emitted by the UAP. This, then, may allow us to infer what is causing the luminosity and emitted radiation by the phenomenon.
What is the difference between this project and ones that have been undertaken previously to study UFOs scientifically?
The biggest difference is our plan to build a large network of stations. In addition, the UFODATA project will build on lessons learned from past initiatives, and we will take advantage of much faster and lighter technology. For example, we have at our disposal today very high- resolution DLSR cameras, as well as cheaper and more precise devices to measure electromagnetic radiation. Previous projects used analog instruments and less capable software and computers. Finally, the distribution of the data can now be done efficiently and in real time with the help of modern communication tools, especially the Internet.
How does this system compare technically to existing meteor camera and sprite camera networks?
Our stations will be similar regarding their optical instrumentation, but also include other sensors that specifically target the reported characteristics of UFOs. For example, meteor surveillance networks are designed to detect meteors that are relatively bright, visible for a short period of time, and high in the atmosphere, and they also typically only collect photographic data. UFODATA stations will be optimized to collect data for longer periods of time with multiple instruments, and not necessarily looking for objects that move quickly, like meteors.
Will the stations operate continuously (24/7)?
Yes, the stations will run continuously, but will only begin recording data when they are triggered by an unusual event, detected either by the cameras or other scientific instruments. When an event occurs data will be stored and then transmitted to our project central servers for review. Stations will not require human intervention except for periodic maintenance.
Will you deploy stations as funding is available, or wait until some minimal number have been constructed before deployment?
We will deploy the first station after it is complete, to test the instruments and software, and learn from this how to improve on the next station. We will build more stations as soon as funding permits.
If I want to build and set up such a station myself, how can I do it?
At this time we don’t have plans to assist others in setting up their own, out-of-network stations, as we have plenty of work to do building our own system. However, if you would like to “sponsor” or host a networked station on your property we would be very interested in talking with you.(Top)
What will you do if the system detects UAP, and how will the data be shared?
The first step will be to thoroughly analyze the data ourselves in an effort to rule out conventional explanations. If we think that we can rule out such explanations then the data will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. In addition, the data will be made available to public scrutiny more generally. Having said that, we reserve the right to place reasonable restrictions on dissemination and sharing of data pending appropriate cost sharing agreements, as we do not have funding or staffing available to compile and distribute data to other agencies at our own cost. Any such arrangements will accord with standard protocols used by non-profit scientific or governmental agencies. Policies on data management and distribution, such as that used the European Space Agency, or GEIPAN in France, will serve as a guide.
How do you plan to share data from UFODATA with your supporters?
Data from the various instruments needs to be processed, analyzed, and matched with physical characteristics of known events. Only after this is done can an event be labeled as 'unexplained' based on expected detections of birds, planes, and weather phenomena. However, we do plan to share data from several instruments, including photos, on the UFODATA website to allow interested members of the public to see and better understand the type of data we will collect.(Top)
Why do you think that Crowdfunding is a good solution for financing your project?
Regrettably, because of the authoritative “taboo” on taking UFOs seriously, official funding for the systematic study of UAP is essentially non-existent, in both the USA and Europe. This was true in the past and is still true today. So even if the scientific community was open and willing to examine scientific evidence for UFOs – and we know that some scientists are – it takes resources to do the research to provide that evidence. Crowdfunding has proven to be an invaluable tool to raise money for projects that, for whatever reason, are not deemed worthy of research grants from the authorities. We know millions of people worldwide are very interested in UFOs, and would like to find out what they are, just as we would. Contributing whatever you can to their study is the way to answer questions that both governments and the scientific community have too long ignored.
When do you intend to launch your crowdfunding campaign?
Over the next several months we will be finalizing our initial assessment of the instrumentation and software requirements for the system. Once these analyses have been completed we will open our crowdfunding campaign. We encourage donations in the meantime, however, since these will let us purchase components that will allow our engineers to start building and get some hands-on experience with the prototype. Visit our Donations Page.
How will UFODATA use revenues from donations, sponsors and merchandise?
Currently no members of the UFODATA team are being paid for their work on the project; we are all volunteers. However, if we cannot find additional volunteers to fill gaps in our team’s expertise, then it may be necessary down the road to hire some specialists. We are very sensitive to spending our scarce resources in this way, and so we will be as efficient as possible with the funds that we raise so that the maximum amount can be spent on the project itself.
If I give a donation to the project today, is it tax deductible in the USA?
UFODATA is incorporated in the state of Ohio as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so yes, your donation is tax deductible in the USA. Please consult your tax advisor for relevant details. Our EIN number is 47-2468507.
Is there anything I can do to contribute besides donating funds?
You can tell your family, friends, and colleagues about UFODATA! And, if you have relevant expertise, from the technical to the social to fundraising, you can volunteer to help. Visit our Volunteer page.