Behind the scenes of the real “offne” hunters in France

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch resulting in GEIPAN reporting. Credit: John D. Serlin/Shutterstock

in France , Collection of study and information about unidentified space phenomena (GEIPAN), has been investigating unidentified atmospheric phenomena (UAPs) – more commonly known as UFOs – for the past 45 years. commitment to National Center for Space Studies (CNES), NASA has invited GEIPAN to present its activities and methods of work before the newly established spacecraft independent team which will study the data and develop methods for analyzing unusual phenomena observed in the sky.

Founded in 1977, GEIPAN is a team of four experts charged with collecting witness accounts, conducting surveys, publishing studies, managing computer systems, and overseeing the organization’s operations. It is a technical department of the French National Center for Space Studies, and relies on external staff, experience and talent, and communicates with many investigators, experts and institutions, including the French Air Force, the National Gendarmerie, the police force, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Météo-France weather service.

The presence of the “UFO Force” in France has entered the country’s popular imagination in recent years, with the comedy-drama series Canal+. Ofni(s)—French term for UFOs. In its quest for realism, the series depicts the equipment used in GEIPAN’s investigations, including the “SimOvni”, which we use to create simulations of phenomena described in eyewitness accounts.

What exactly is UAP?

Unidentified weather phenomena are unusual events that are observed by eyewitnesses and seem inexplicable. They often take the form of a bright light.

Simple explanations can be found for more than 60% of UAPs—usually paper lanterns, party balloons, hot air balloons, airplanes, satellites, meteorites, stars, planets, and so on. While these events may seem simple or mundane, it is important to remember that each of these recorded scenes offers some strange, unique, or noteworthy aspect. GEIPAN collects 700 eyewitness reports annually, with 150 to 200 investigations remaining open. Anyone able to submit a report using the form on the GEIPAN website.

The apparent specificity of an event may depend on the environment and viewing conditions. These may include low-light conditions, the absence of sound, an atmospheric turbulence that causes a star to flash strangely, or sunlight reflected off a distant plane.

There are also more spectacular sights, such as meteors appearing to break through the atmosphere. One such atypical event was when Starlink Aerospace Group It entered orbit, which resulted in several reports of bright spots moving in a row, and other reports of a “glowing ball”. The spot series was 50 to 60 satellites going into orbit, seen at sunset or sunrise when the sky is dark and the sun is reflecting off the satellites. The orb corresponds to the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which launched the satellites into orbit. Impulses from this spacecraft every one to two seconds created a bubble of gas, which then appeared as a luminous ball in the night sky under the light of a sunset or sunrise. Along with this ball, a bright spot, sometimes in the shape of a butterfly, caused it Remove residual oxygen and kerosene from the rocket’s second stage before it re-enters the atmosphere.

UAP reports can also be the result of simple misinterpretation. An amateur astronomer might take a high-quality image of a bright flash in the sky, but popular astronomy apps wouldn’t have enough data to provide an explanation. In this case, only the Department of Internal Space Monitoring of the French National Center for Space Studies can prove the existence of a rocket stage that reflects sunlight. Even the flickering candle of a paper lantern could be seen as an object hurtling through the sky at an extreme speed.

To understand and explain the observations GEIPAN receives, we rely on tools and applications across a range of fields, from aeronautics to space (for satellites and debris), astronomy (for stars and meteorites), meteorology, image processing, and more.

Plausible explanations have been found for about two-thirds of the observed phenomena, but the remaining third remains unsolved due to lack of information to analyze the report and provide an explanation. Then there are the “D cases,” which is about 3%, where we have enough information but haven’t found an explanation. This is when we consider all the hypotheses formulated and analyzed by us to be inconclusive.

A view of the Falcon 9 rocket as documented by GEIPAN. Credit: GEIPAN, author provided

GEIPAN methodology

GEIPAN’s aim is clear: to provide, or attempt to provide, a rational answer to the misunderstood, unusual, and sometimes startling events observed by witnesses, and to explain the reasons for their supposed irregularity.

There are three main stages involved in achieving this goal. Basically, we collect eyewitness testimonies, conduct technical studies, and publish analytical reports on GEIPAN websitewhile always protecting eyewitness anonymity.

  • Each task begins with ReportWhether it is submitted via our website or at a local police station. Whether you use still images or video footage, reports always include specific data as witnessed by a human. As with other types of scientific measurement, data contains “measurement overlap,” which varies greatly depending on the individual. Sometimes the account is of excellent quality, but factors such as feelings, memories, and beliefs can alter or even distort a witness’s perceptions. Our priority is to filter out this overlap to isolate real-world data.

  • Next we An eyewitness account study consistency. As the quality and quantity of reported information increases, its irregularity tends to decrease. At this point, we use the GEIPAN computer database along with a set of technical applications and software. These include general-use tools as well as expertise developed by our partners, in particular the French Air Force (for reproducing flight paths), Météo-France (for accurate weather conditions) and the French National Center for Space Studies itself (for high-precision tracking of satellites and debris).

  • Finally, we are sometimes Implementation of field workThis allows us to more accurately analyze the conditions of the vision and conduct a cognitive interview with the eyewitness. Our goal in these interviews is to flesh out the narrative, revealing the most reliable information possible, while not distorting it. Developed and taught by our expert psychologist, this is an invaluable method at GEIPAN. For difficult cases, the multidisciplinary expert team is called upon to assist in the progress of the study and to make a collective decision on its conclusion.

Working with independent experts at NASA over the coming months, France’s GEIPAN will detail its methods and share the data. This will allow both groups to explore phenomena that resist easy explanation, study relevant atmospheric hazards, and make recommendations for future research.

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