Nothing kills a career faster than being branded a kook, and in many circles, that's what you are when you admit you've seen a UFO.
The stakes are raised, of course, if we're talking about academic communities, and even more so among astronomers -- people who study the skies.
Many astronomers say there's nothing of any scientific merit that could result in the study of UFOs.
With the career suicide stakes for astronomers so high, some UFO researchers believe many of them are hesitant to step forward. Certainly, the Air Force's Project Bluebook -- the last officially announced government study of unidentified flying objects -- concluded that five percent of the cases investigated could not be immediately explained away.
Nevertheless, one nationally renowned astronomer, Derrick Pitts, tells The Huffington Post that it might be time for a thorough study of unexplained aerial phenomena.
"If you say, 'Let's pursue an investigation of UFOs so we can identify where these alien spacecraft are coming from,' then people go, 'What? I'm not touching that with a 10-foot pole.' But if you say, 'Let's look at what the possibilities are that, at one time, there were environments where life possibly could have developed on Mars,' then everybody says, 'Oh, yeah, I want a piece of that,'" said Pitts, senior scientist and chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia.
Pitts is also a NASA Solar System Ambassador. He told HuffPost about the idea that most serious astronomers give no credence to UFO reports.
"I can speculate about what many astronomers would say if you ask them that question. Many of them would say, 'I haven't seen anything, so I can't say that they exist. I can't say that this five percent are alien spacecraft.' But if you ask them in the same breath, 'Would you be willing to engage in a research project to figure out what these things are,' I don't know what that answer would be ( via huffingtonpost.com ).
"I'd say, yeah, let's find out, let's take a look at it, because here we have a phenomenon that causes a tremendous amount of interest. Why not try to understand what it is?"