France became the first country to open its files on UFOs Thursday when the national space agency unveiled a website documenting more than 1,600 sightings spanning five decades.
The online archives, which will be updated as new cases are reported, catalogues in minute detail cases ranging from the easily dismissed to a handful that continue to perplex even hard-nosed scientists.
"Cases such as the lady who reported seeing an object that looked like a flying roll of toilet paper" are clearly not worth investigating, said Patenet.
But many others involving multiple sightings -- in at least one case involving thousands of people across France -- and evidence such as burn marks and radar trackings showing flight patterns or accelerations that defy the laws of physics are taken very seriously.
Dit is de website waar het ufo archief op staat (is momenteel niet bereikbaar): http://www.cnes-geipan.fr/
So many people have already tried to look at the files that it has become impossible to access the site.
Now, thanks to a small team of space agency researchers who call themselves the Office for the Study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena, the French will be able to access some 10,000 documents about UFOs, including photographs, police reports and videos sent in by witnesses.
But only about 9% of France's UFO cases have ever been fully explained, the group says. And of the 1,600 cases registered since 1954, nearly a quarter are known as Category D - meaning that in spite of good data and witnesses, the mysterious sightings remain inexplicable.