Everything That's Come Out About Aliens In 2023

Were you watching the skies in 2023? Well, you weren't the only one; the subject of UFOs is bigger than it has been for years. It seems that not since the 1990s, when the hit TV show "The X-Files" and the cinematic blockbuster "Independence Day" dominated our screens, has the idea of extraterrestrial visitations to Earth been so prevalent in popular media. But it's not just in the world of fiction that the possibility of alien life has been top-of-mind. Thanks to some key developments in the early 2020s regarding evidence of UFOs in the U.S. — such as the release of a landmark report in 2021, in which the government declassified numerous pieces of footage showing "unidentified aerial phenomena" from between 2004 and 2021, and details of 143 encounters in total – UFOs are firmly back on the political agenda and increasingly discussed in the context of national security.

UFO content is showing no slowdown in 2023, nor is the possibility of further revelations regarding alien encounters. Here are the major UFO-related developments of 2023 thus far.

The Pentagon began the year with hundreds of new UFO sightings

The wave of UFO-related activity that emerged in 2023 didn't arise out of nothing: 2022 was also a year in which people were watching the skies. Well, actually, they were looking at far more than that.

The Pentagon responded to the demand for increased monitoring and study of UFOs with the formation of a new department, known as the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). As the "All-Domain" descriptor suggests, the department is responsible for investigating strange phenomena in a range of locations, such as sightings of unexplained objects that submerge into the sea. Amid their wide purview, the AARO published a report claiming that sightings of "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," or UAPs — the term that professional bodies are increasingly using instead of UFOs — had risen sharply in 2022, with 247 new sightings reported to the AARO since its inception in the summer of that year, including 119 historical ones. As well as other sightings that were already on the books, the total the AARO now has in its files by mid-2022 was already over 500.

SETI deploys AI in the search for alien life

A 2021 UFO report and the subsequent formation of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) both led to a huge upsurge in UFO sightings, as well as an increased openness in politics and the media to the general possibility of alien life. But before the recent wave of interest, another organization spoke publicly about otherworldly life: a group known as the SETI Institute, the name of which stands for the "Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence."

Launched in California in 1985 following a small two-person NASA project looking into potential alien life, SETI has benefited from its association with several high-profile scientists, including the much-missed Carl Sagan. Per SETI's website, its stated mission is: "... to detect evidence of technological civilizations that may exist elsewhere in the universe, particularly in our Galaxy."

Its efforts still continue today, and in February 2023, the institute announced that, amid all the recent UFO coverage, they were stepping up their efforts using a similarly ascendant technology: artificial intelligence. In collaboration with a University of Toronto student, Peter Ma, SETI hopes to deploy machine learning to analyze enormous data sets that previous technology couldn't hope to unravel. An initial search found eight previously undiscovered signals SETI described as "of interest."

UFOs were shot down

While UFOs have made the news more often in 2023 than in recent years, the subject doesn't usually beat geopolitical developments to claim front-page headlines. However, that changed in February, when it was announced that over the course of a week, a series of unidentified objects had been detected in American and Canadian airspace before being shot down.

It was soon confirmed that a total of four objects had been downed. The first object was identified as a Chinese spy balloon, but with regard to whether the other objects were of extra-terrestrial origin, U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck said in a press conference: "I'll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven't ruled out anything," according to Reuters. However, other sources within the military told the outlet that there was no evidence that any of the objects were alien craft, and NPR has claimed that the vagueness of the military in their reporting of the incidents was an attempt to remain accurate with limited data.

At the end of March, it was reported that the Pentagon had refused to release footage of one of the balloons filmed at the moment it was shot out of the sky. '"Footage of aircraft interactions with the high-altitude objects does exist — but remains classified," a Pentagon spokesperson told PetaPixel. "Release of the images and footage is not possible at this time. No timeline has been provided for future release."

The mothership theory

In March 2023, an eye-popping theory concerning potential alien life in our own solar system added more fuel to the fire of recent UFO speculation, though the idea remains contentious.

The theory arose through a paper published by the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, written by Harvard academic Abraham Loeb and Sean M. Fitzpatrick of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), titled "Physical Constraints on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." In the paper, Loeb and Fitzpatrick theorize that the recent spate of UFO sightings, which suggest propulsion technology beyond earthling understanding, may be the result of an alien mothership stationed somewhere in our galaxy, and that these UFOs are probes sent out to investigate Earth. Specifically, the paper draws attention to "ʻOumuamua," a cigar-shaped object spotted in the solar system in 2017, and speculates whether the phenomenon might be an alien craft.

While Fitzpatrick is undoubtedly a respected figure in the science community, the paper has received criticism for crossing the line between scientific theorizing and unfounded conjecture. Alejandro Rojas, who serves as a board member of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies, told Politico: "It's a fine line because there's 'being open to speculative ideas' like this, but that can be translated into an actual supporting of this possibility, and I think that's where there needs to be more clarity." The paper has also been criticized for undermining the AARO as a credible and trustworthy body in the search for the truth about UFOs.

New image of an unidentified object in Iraq warzone released

While in 2023, there have been ongoing developments in how UFOs were investigated and analyzed, there has also been plenty of academic conjecture concerning how alien visitations might be possible, all of which added up to a bumper year in terms of alien-related headlines. But among all this, were any more notable sightings circulated in the press? Yes and no.

For the majority of TV segments and news articles regarding UFO reports and the AARO, editors have tended to illustrate their stories with footage that emerged at the time of the 2021 UFO report, mainly taken by U.S. Air Force personnel, and which remains some of the most intriguing film of unexplained aerial phenomena that exists today.

But in the wake of four objects being shot down from American and Canadian airspace in February 2023, just a few months later, footage emerged from an Iraq conflict zone back in 2016, seemingly showing a metallic orb flying through the air with no noticeable means of propulsion. The phenomenon has yet to be explained.

Canada announces new UFO study

In recent years, new UFO stories have come from one or two hotspots, namely the U.S. and Japan (per AARO). But as strange aerial phenomena have increasingly made headlines in recent years — and posed a potential threat to national security — other nations have also proven that they are willing to take the subject of UFOs seriously.

One of these nations is Canada. As CTV News revealed in a feature published at the start of March, the Canadian government has seemingly conceded that monitoring suspicious unidentified flying objects is in the national interest, and has commissioned a large-scale study on UFOs and how they are reported.

Emerging from the Office of the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, the study was outlined in a PowerPoint presentation dated February 2023, and subsequently obtained by CTV News, who were told that "[a]ny emerging technology or unexplained phenomenon" was within the purview of the department and its proposed study. Any findings are due to be published in 2024.

Claims of a cover-up hit headlines

The sight of American politicians actively discussing what they believed to be true encounters between the U.S. military and extra-terrestrial craft was once a rare occurrence, but not in 2023, as shown in comments made by Tennessee congressman Tim Burchett (pictured) to Newsweek in July.

After the February 2023 downing of several aerial craft above the U.S. and Canada, the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre moved to deaden speculation regarding the origin of the objects, stating bluntly that there was "no indication of aliens or extraterrestrial activity."

But Burchett denied the government's official line and instead claimed that he believed the government had recovered alien craft and possibly alien lifeforms, which are being researched to reverse-engineer advanced alien technology for its own ends. The comments came among a growing sense that, rather than the subject of UFOs being an entirely new area of interest for officials in government departments, there may have been a lowkey response behind closed doors. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy added that recent classified briefings regarding UFOs had convinced him that such sightings are "not a recent phenomenon."

The Pentagon UFO tracking numbers continued to rise

By mid-April, the furor around recent UFO sightings and the U.S. military's response — and what they may be hiding behind the scenes — showed no sign of abating. In fact, outlets were reporting that, if anything, the discussion was growing even more intense, along with the revelation that the Pentagon was now tracking more than 650 still-open UFO cases.

Sean Kirkpatrick of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) claimed that many of these had been prioritized for further investigation and data gathering. Kirkpatrick explained that it was a lack of data points that kept many apparent UFO sightings on the books of the AARO, stating: "I will not close a case that I cannot defend the conclusions of" (via Politico).

Nevertheless, though Kirkpatrick gained some notoriety earlier in 2023 for being one of the named authors of a widely-circulated paper, in which he posited an alien mothership theory as an explanation for sightings of potential alien craft, he was keen to inform the public that as of yet, no concrete evidence exists of the existence of extraterrestrial life — to the AARO's knowledge.

UFOs would likely be piloted by AI

Despite a lack of concrete evidence concerning the presence or even the potential nature of alien life, open-minded academics continued to speculate on potential scenarios in which humanity might come into contact with creatures and technology of extra-terrestrial origin.

One of these scenarios was put forward by Dr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a renowned scientist and professor of planetary habitability and astrobiology at Berlin's Technical University, adjunct professor at Washington State University, and associate member of the SETI Institute. Writing for Big Think in April 2023, Schulze-Makuch argues that the traditional formulation of UFOs as being piloted by little green men from another planet is misguided. Citing the relatively short lifespan of organic life on Earth, compared to the decades required even to travel to nearby planets at speeds approaching that of light, Schulze-Makuch argues that alien craft is unlikely to contain biological life.

Instead, he speculates that alien civilizations capable of space travel will have developed AI technology, just as humans have recently done, and that any UFOs from other worlds would likely be AI-driven. Thus far, bodies such as SETI have focussed their search of the cosmos on identifying Earth-like planets that might contain organic life. Schulze-Makuch suggests that the parameters of such searches ought to be changed to include planets that contain similar materials to the planet Mercury, which could theoretically keep mechanical "life" maintained.

NASA pushes the government for better data

At the end of May 2023, NASA held a live-streamed public meeting on how the organization tackles the thorny topic of UFOs, ahead of a planned report on NASA's future role in investigating such phenomena. Noting that members of the panel had been subject to abuse online — seemingly from conspiracy theorists — NASA highlighted the need to ensure that they established a "rigorous, evidence-based approach" to UFOs, to avoid the facts being muddied by the conjecture and hearsay that underpins much of the fuzzy thinking around strange aerial phenomena.

Things moved quickly for NASA in the following months, especially after the agency published a 36-page UFO report outlining their data concerns, and various technical requirements that would underpin an effective scientific investigation into alien phenomena. NASA revealed that they had found no conclusive evidence of alien visitations to Earth in any of the material they had reviewed so far, but conceded that they could not rule out "potential unknown alien technology operating in Earth's atmosphere."

Looking to widen their scope, in September 2023, NASA announced that they had appointed a new director of UAP (unidentified anomalous phenomenon) research, Mark McInernay, formerly of the Pentagon, who will lead the UAP team first set up back in October 2022.

A new support group for pilots who see UFOs

After decades of ridicule, those who claim to have encountered unexplainable aerial phenomena are having their stories taken more seriously than ever. A key part of these testimonies is the identities of those who have reported such encounters.

One of the most convincing aspects of reported alien craft in terrestrial airspace is that they originate from otherwise trusted sources, such as active military personnel and veterans. Usually, their reports end up classified, or they fail to speak out for fear of being ridiculed, ostracised, and destroying their careers.

There has also been a growing awareness of the stigma faced by military personnel who have seen the unexplainable while carrying out their duties. It has led former Navy fighter pilot Ryan Graves — who was the first pilot to testify in Congress on the subject of UFOs — to launch in June 2023 "Americans for Safe Aerospace," an advocacy group for other members of the military who, as yet, have no official channel to take sightings to.

More reports of crashed UFO material being recovered by U.S. military

UFO stories started to ramp up in June 2023, when The Debrief published an exclusive feature telling the story of 36-year-old David Charles Grusch (pictured), a former combat officer and participant of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. Grusch has been catapulted to international fame after claiming to have encountered evidence of UFOs during his work for both of these bodies, for which he liaised with the U.S. Department of Defense's recently established Unidentified Aerial Phenomena task force. Specifically, Grusch echoed the public comments of Congressman Tim Burchett, in claiming that the U.S. military had gathered alien technology that "includes intact and partially intact vehicles." Grusch claimed in a complaint that such discoveries have been made numerous times over the decades, but always covered up by those in the know, and illegally kept from Congress.

There was an immediate and headline-grabbing consequence of Grusch's claims: The House Oversight Committee announced its intention to hold an official hearing regarding the allegations, giving Grusch — many of whose colleagues have attested to his trustworthiness — the chance to put his findings in the public sphere.

UFO sighting grounds flights at Turkey airport

While potential UFO activity was slowly beginning to affect U.S. politics in 2023, a sighting in the same year, on the other side of the Atlantic, was having an immediate and disruptive effect on people's everyday lives.

On May 20, a commercial flight reported a sighting of a strange object 9,000 feet above the Turkish city of Gaziantep, the presence of which was soon validated by air traffic controllers, though none was able to ascertain exactly what the object was. Instead, the air traffic controllers called for the immediate suspension of air traffic in the area for the sake of public safety. As a result, some 26 flights were canceled, with air traffic to Gaziantep Airport closed for around 12 hours in total. However, no further action was taken.

Two days later, a UFO reportedly caused similar disruption for around 40 minutes at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport, affecting about 1,000 passengers.

Family claims UFO and alien sighting in Las Vegas

No stranger to larger-than-life activity on a regular basis, a particularly colorful UFO tale emerged from the city of Las Vegas in June 2023.

According to ABC 7 Chicago, the story began with a 911 call from a Vegas family, namely a father and two sons, who told the police that they had been doing mechanical work on a car in their yard when an object crash-landed nearby, shaking the earth beneath them. The call led to officers being dispatched to the house, whose body cam footage of the startled family was widely shared on news networks. As well as the crash, the family claimed to have encountered alien lifeforms, who they described as having emerged from the crashed craft and being "eight to ten feet tall," and certainly not human. Officers were unable to find any evidence of the bizarre visitation beyond the family's testimony, though their bodycam footage seemingly shows a blue triangle hovering in the air behind their house.

Months later, the family — who had remained anonymous in early reports – re-emerged in the media to share drawings of the creatures they had seen, and to claim that black government cars had been spotted near their property in the days following the encounter.

Congressional hearing details multi-decade cover-up of UFOs

But despite ongoing UFO sightings and claims of alien encounters making it into the news, the biggest alien-related story of the year involved the U.S. congressional hearings that took place in July 2023. David Grusch outlined his whistleblowing testimony, concerning what he said was a historic "multi-decade" program of covert UFO recovery within the U.S. military for the purposes of reverse engineering alien technology. Grusch testified that he had interviewed 40 people within the military and, though he had no true evidence that he could share at the hearing, he was convinced such a program and cover-up exists, that he knew the locations of where alien technology had been stored, and that the government was also in possession of biological alien matter — in other words, alien corpses.

The government denied Grusch's claims outright and pointed to the lack of evidence concerning UFOs, as revealed by their own research. "To date, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) has not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently," a Pentagon spokesperson told Time.

Legislation was passed to limit potential cover-ups

The 2023 UFO congressional hearings shook up how U.S. politicians approached the thorny and usually fringe topic of UFOs. As Marik von Rennenkampff described in an opinion piece for The Hill, the topic was of interest even to UFO skeptics, as, even if the testimony of David Grusch was false, there was still a story there: namely, that the U.S. military was encouraging the dissemination of a UFO fantasy narrative for the sake of disinformation and deflection. 

In the wake of the hearings, several notable politicians made steps to establish greater transparency around Grusch's claims, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (pictured), who spearheaded legislation that ensures "any and all recovered technologies of unknown origin ... that may be controlled by private persons or entities" now falls under the eminent domain of the government. Further Senate legislation means that any kind of cover-up, as outlined by Grusch, would be defunded, and those with information regarding UFO seizures are now obliged to come forward.

The Pentagon launches new declassified evidence website

With the Pentagon under increased pressure to provide greater transparency in the wake of the July 2023 headline-grabbing congressional hearings and claims of a UFO cover-up within the American military, the Defense Department announced the launch of an official website for the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). Through this resource, the Pentagon plans to share declassified materials relating to UFOs with the general public. However, the website in its early form was frustratingly incomplete, housing only a few videos at the time of its launch, with areas of the website described as "coming soon."

Similarly, despite the new visibility of the AARO, by August 2023, systems for the official reporting of UFO sightings directly to the office were absent from the site. Even U.S. Air Force pilots were still without a direct email address or telephone number through which they could direct their sightings to the relevant department, according to Politico. Instead, the website suggests military personnel should report sightings via their chain of command, and that civilians should contact air traffic control.

1,000-year-old alien corpses purportedly revealed in Mexico

Possibly the most bizarre alien-related story hit news outlets in September 2023, when the Mexican Congress was holding its own UFO hearing — and not only did the hearing contain expert testimony, as a similar hearing in the U.S. had done, but there was also apparent "evidence."

Footage showed that Mexican politicians were shown what appeared to be two tiny bodies, with strange-shaped heads and long fingers, which the journalist and UFO investigator Jaime Maussan claimed were the 1,000-year-old remains of aliens that had been discovered in Peru in 2017. While the politicians in the room remained balanced in their response to the strange scene and noted the need for further research, the rather unconvincing figures — which look more like preschool projects than credible alien remains — were met across the internet and by scientific experts with a great deal of skepticism. Critics claimed that Maussan had pulled similar "stunts" in recent years, without any resultant scientific conclusions being proffered. As NASA's Dr. David Spergel argued: "Make samples available to the world scientific community and we'll see what's there" (via the BBC). Following the criticism, journalists were invited to film the bodies being tested by scientists.

More pointedly, Peruvian Culture Minister Leslie Urteaga raised the question of how the objects had been removed from Peru without going through any official challenge, and asked why no Peruvian scientific institution had been given the opportunity to study them. She argued that if they were indeed Peruvian, they had been taken from the country illegally. 

A clutch of old UFO videos went viral

While the Pentagon remains the government body most closely associated with the release of fresh videos of potential UFOs and other strange aerial phenomena, September 2023 saw a new batch of old footage released by another source. On September 8, U.S. Customs and Border Protection uploaded previously unseen clips related to a total of 10 UFO encounters that had been investigated by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force (UAPTF). The release was accompanied by 387 pages of reports, including interviews with those who witnessed the phenomena.

Though they failed to receive much traction in the mainstream media, they went viral on social media, with users commenting excitedly that some of the clips — including those that seemed to show strange orbs chasing military aircraft. "Could this be the best yet?" tweeted one X, formerly known as Twitter, user.

Echoing the sentiments of online UFO enthusiasts, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Chris Mellon told NBC that the new videos are "significant," and that the Defense Department is still receiving between 50 and 100 new UFO videos per month.