ET may be found "pretty soon", according to a top Brit space boffin, who warned that "if there's something interesting out there" it may be about to be discovered.
Michael A Garrett the University of Manchester astrophysics chief spoke out ahead of the release of a US Government report.
It is expected to concede more than 150 reported UFO sightings remain unexplained despite thorough investigation.
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The Office of the Director of National Intelligence probe is said to have focussed on 366 sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena.
Some are expected to be exposed as weather balloons or drones.
But sources say around half remain a mystery despite detailed examination by Government investigators with access to military and civilian records.
Some of the inquiry's findings will be made public when the report is presented to US Congress within the next few days.
But most will remain classified – including those related to alleged snooping by foreign government drones on US military activity.
Despite the secrecy surrounding some of the findings Professor Garrett, 58, director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics since 2016, said the Earth could be on the brink of a bombshell discovery.
He said: "If there's something interesting out there I think we'll know pretty soon. There is the possibility of real scientific discovery."
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He said improvements in telescope technology and data recording plus a renewed interest in the subject worldwide could produce a breakthrough.
Until now most reported sightings have involved poor quality data in the form of blurry photos and low-resolution videos.
"Currently the evidence is very poorly presented and doesn't have any technical specifications associated with it,’" Professor Garrett said. What we actually need is real scientific data and analysis."
With high-quality cameras capturing intentional images there was a potential for a raft of new findings.
He added: "That could be meteorites entering the Earth's atmosphere, satellites deorbiting… who knows, there might be natural phenomena that are to be discovered. It's important to keep an open mind."
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