Skip main navigation

What are UFOs?

What are unidentified flying objects or UFOs?
0.1
(gentle music) People across the world are gripped by the mystery of UFOs, and the stories told by those who have witnessed them. What is it about the phenomena of UFOs that is so compelling? How can we explain these sightings? UFOs have a simple definition, if not always a simple explanation. A UFO is an alleged sighting of an aerial phenomenon that cannot be identified. In pop culture, however, UFOs are inextricably tied to evidence of alien spacecraft visiting earth. In 2021, 41% of Americans indicated that they believe some UFOs have extraterrestrial explanations. Although most agree that many reports can be dismissed out of hand, several organizations work to substantiate claims that support this line of thinking.
56.2
The more common theory is that UFOs have mundane explanations. Planes, balloons, clouds, celestial objects, like meteors and planets. Government investigations, developed due to concerns about national security, have not yielded any evidence of alien spacecraft. Skeptics point to flaws in videos, errors in sensors, and the unreliability of eye witness testimony. Yet practitioners of ufology, the study of UFOs, argue that there are phenomena for which there is no earthly explanation. UFOs do require investigation, which most often leads to identification, and not as evidence of some extraordinary technology. Through the UFO research of the last 80 years, we have learned more about science, technology, and ourselves. Who knows what knowledge the future might hold? (rocket roaring)
This article is from the free online

UFOs: Scanning the Skies Teach-Out

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education