ReutersPARIS (Reuters) - The French space agency is to publish its archive of UFO sightings and other phenomena online, but will keep the names of those who reported them off the site to protect them from pestering by space fanatics.
Jacques Arnould, an official at the National Space Studies Center (CNES), said the French database of around 1,600 incidents would go live in late January or mid-February.
He said the CNES had been collecting statements and documents for almost 30 years to archive and study them.
"Often they are made to the Gendarmerie, which provides an official witness statement ... and some come from airline pilots," he said by telephone.
Given the success of films about visitations from outer space like "E.T.," "Close Encounters of The Third Kind" and "Independence Day," the CNES archive is likely to prove a hit.
It consists of around 6,000 reports, many relating to the same incident, filed by the public and airline professionals. Their names would not be published to protect their privacy, Anould said.
Advances in technology over the past three decades had prompted the decision to put the archive online, he said, adding it would likely be available via the CNES website www.cnes.fr.