For those who have the time and ambition to do serious investigation and research into the UFO phenomenon, we provide on this page some specific projects in areas where a) little is known or b) a follow-up on previous research would be beneficial.
While we do have learned something about the UFO phenomenon, as well as those who witness a UFO, there is far, far more that we don’t know. This means that almost any project that you might wish to undertake will be valuable. CUFOS has conducted its own research, but also has devoted serious effort to assisting researchers in their projects, either with our case files or via consulting and collaboration. We are ready to assist you if you are interested in any of the projects listed below, providing expertise, listings of relevant literature and past work, and resources either within CUFOS or externally. We welcome inquiries about possible projects, including ones not on the list below.
A detailed analysis of triangular/boomerang-shaped UFOs
In recent years more and more witnesses are reporting triangular-shaped UFOs. We don’t know why this has occurred, but more to the point, we don’t have a reliable assessment of the broad characteristics of these cases. There have been some previous studies, such as that by the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS Investigations of the Flying Triangle Enigma), but this was preliminary and done in 2004. There is also the book by CUFOS board member David Marler (Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation) which is an excellent compendium but didn’t attempt any detailed analysis for patterns, etc. Many interesting types of reports–trace cases, vehicle interference cases, sightings by pilots, and so forth–have been examined collectively, and triangular-shaped UFOs are an obvious choice for such a study.
Re-interview UFO witnesses from older close encounter UFO cases
Witnesses in close encounters of the third kind, and even more so abduction cases, have reported changes to their outlook on life, psychology, interests, and even abilities as aftereffects of the experience. Do these reported changes linger over a longer time span of 5-10, or even more years? What is a the current perspective of a witness on their encounter? Have they had other experiences since the first they reported? In essence, we’d like to know whether UFO encounters have lasting effects on people.
Create a tool to assist witnesses in creating an image of the UFO they saw
Most people are not artists and so their drawings of what they have witnessed are crude and not always that informative. Given today’s software tools, especially AI applications, it would be extremely useful if an easy-to-use online tool could be created that any witness could use to easily depict what they observed, including shape, color, lights, if any, and even surface details.
Conduct a large-scale representative survey to locate UFO witnesses
We know very little about people who report a UFO sighting, although quite a bit about who professes belief in UFOs. It is much easier to study the latter than the former, and social scientists are more interested in belief than in the actual experience. There have been polls that asked whether a respondent had a sighting, with a number usually around 10%. Some of these report the association of various demographic factors with reporting, and findings have been inconsistent. One study organized by a professor at a local community college in 2008-2009 used a non-probability sample but had useful findings (UFO experiences in Western New York). The book Paranormal America (Christopher Bader, et al) summarized research that did use a probability sample but reported only a few associations (again, interested more in belief). With today’s online survey capabilities, the cost of conducting a sufficiently representative survey is not nearly as great as it was 10 or 20 years ago. Doing such a survey will allow us to rigorously asses the relationship between witnessing a UFO and witness and other characteristics.
A study of UFO shapes over time and location
UFOs once were often reported as disc-shaped, and while such reports still occur, as a proportion reports now are more likely to be either ovals/spheres, or triangles/boomerangs. This general trend is clear, but we have no in-depth studies of UFO shape that show how shape has changed by location of the sighting, by year, by time of day, or even whether it is related to witness characteristics. Some initial work has been been done by Dr. Donald Johnson, CUFOS scientific consultant with the key responsibility for the UFOCAT database, but much remains to be investigated.
Find UFOs in satellite images
Many people scan photos of the sky, or Google Earth, looking for unusual objects or phenomenon. But that leads to too many ‘false positives’ to check and, importantly, isn’t associated with the visual sighting of a UFO. The process should actually be reversed. First, UFO sightings with an accurate location and date that are clearly anomalous (ideally, have been investigated), should be collected. Then in a second step, that location on that date and time is checked for available satellite imagery. Today, the cost of obtaining such imagery is rapidly dropping, and there are a number of commercial satellite companies that supply images (e.g., Maxar). Satellites are not constantly scanning every location on Earth, so this type of project is a long-shot, but one that could have immense impact of an image of a UFO matching a witness description was captured on a photo.
Geophysical data and UFO sightings
Some past studies have found associations between UFO reports and various geophysical variables, including the magnetic field, tectonic stress, or cosmic rays. The researcher who did the most work on this was Prof. Michael Persinger (deceased), who wrote dozens and dozens of papers in this area (here is one representive example). Another paper by Zeller from the Journal of UFO Studies found an association with galactic cosmic rays. Given current increased scientific interest in the UFO phenomenon, such as from the Galileo Project at Harvard, extending this research with more recent reports and available data would be quite valuable.