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A history of UAP research at CNES

From Gepan to Geipan

In 1977, the CNES Director General set up the Gepan* research group to pursue studies initiated by a CNES engineer as a personal project.
Its mandate was simple: conduct research into UFOs (as they are commonly called). The group’s work was overseen by a scientific advisory board.

Gepan continued its research until 1988, when it was superseded by Sepra**. As well as UAPs, the new unit also monitored artificial atmospheric re-entries, i.e. debris from space missions falling back to Earth.

In 2000, Sepra refocused on the original mission of UAP research, albeit with limited resources. In 2001, the Director General requested an audit to help decide on the future of this CNES department.

What does that stand for?
UFO: unidentified flying object
UAP: unidentified aerospace phenomenon
GEPAN: Groupe d’Etudes des Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non identifiés, the French UAP research group
SEPRA: Service d’Expertise des Phénomènes de Rentrées Atmosphériques, the CNES department responsible for assessing atmospheric re-entry phenomenon
GEIPAN: Groupe d’Etudes et d’Information des Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non identifiés, the French UAP research and information group
COPEIPAN: Comité de Pilotage des Etudes et de l’Information sur les Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non identifiés, the steering committee that oversees the work of GEIPAN

6,000 eyewitness reports

Classification of observation cases

Since 1977, Gepan and then Sepra have collected close to 6,000 reports from eyewitnesses, mostly on the ground but about 6% who observed phenomena from aircraft.

Once reported events have been grouped into observation cases, about 22% remain unexplained after investigation and analysis.



 

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