'Aliens have visited Earth'. The first impression that one gets on hearing this is the conviction that it's a hoax, but one looks at the source of the statement, and it sounds more credible.
Not everyday do you have a former NASA astronaut, and that too the sixth man to have walked on the Moon. Of course, the news is still so fantastic and bound to whip public interest on extraterrestrial civilisations and their possible forays into the world of us earthlings.
The 77-year-old Dr Edgar Mitchell, who was a crew member of the Apollo 14 mission, said sources at the space agency had described aliens as resembling "little people who look strange to us".
Dr Mitchell, along with Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard, still holds the record for the longest ever moonwalking session at nine hours and 17 minutes following their 1971 mission.
Dr Mitchell told Kerrang! Radio that human technology was "not nearly as sophisticated" as theirs and had they been hostile, he warned, "We would be gone by now". He added, "There's not much question at all that there's life throughout the universe, we are not alone at all. I'm most assured about that.''
"Have we been able to identify where the other planets are? No, certainly not in our Solar System but we have been able to identify quite a number of planets that could be life bearing planets. I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we've been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomena are real.''
"It's been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it's leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it. I've been in military and intelligence circles, who know that beneath the surface of what has been public knowledge, yes – we have been visited.''
''Reading the papers recently, it's been happening quite a bit,'' he concluded.
Officials from NASA were quick to play the comments down.
In a statement, a spokesman said, "NASA does not track UFOs. NASA is not involved in any sort of cover up about alien life on this planet or anywhere in the universe. Dr Mitchell is a great American, but we do not share his opinions on this issue."
Dr. Mitchell is the author of Psychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science, (1974), a major reference book; and The Way of the Explorer, a major refernece book (1996), both published by Putnam.
Dr. Mitchell delivers lectures on cosmology, human potential and topics relating to the evolving future of the species on planet Earth. 1996.