(WJW) – Is there life beyond Earth?

NASA’s top leader, Bill Nelson, announced on Thursday that NASA will appoint a Director of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Research.

The appointment comes at the recommendation of an independent study commissioned last summer to more closely examine UAPs, more commonly known as UFOs.

“NASA’s new Director of UAP Research will develop and oversee the implementation of NASA’s scientific vision for UAP research, including using NASA’s expertise to work with other agencies to analyze UAP and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to search the skies for anomalies. NASA will do this work transparently for the benefit of humanity,” said Administrator Bill Nelson.

The study team’s report is not an assessment of previous UAP incidents or sightings, but rather a collection of recommendations to help NASA better understand what possible data is available to help in their research.

The team of researchers was made up of 16 experts.

“The NASA independent study team did not find any evidence that UAPs have an extraterrestrial origin but we do not know what these UAPs are,” said Nelson during a press briefing announcing the new position. “NASA has statutory authority to look for life in the universe.”

In a media advisory, NASA said it defines UAP as: “observations of events in the sky that cannot be identified as aircraft or known natural phenomena from a scientific perspective. There are currently a limited number of high-quality observations of UAP, which make it impossible to draw firm scientific conclusions about their nature.”

NASA also detailed plans to improve citizen reporting by building a “broader, more reliable UAP dataset to use to identify future UAP incidents.”

“We are looking for signs of life – past and present – and it’s in our DNA to explore and to ask why things are the way they are,” said Nelson.

You can learn more about the independent study report, here.

UAP interest grew this year after former intelligence official David Grusch claimed the Pentagon is covering up evidence related to extraterrestrial craft and lifeforms. Grusch was unable to provide evidence at a House hearing this summer.

A new website was released by the Defense Department that provides official declassified information on UFOs, including photos and videos. It can be accessed by the public.

The Hill contributed to this report.