Image: International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, N.M.
Mark Wilson  /  Roswell Daily Record via AP file
People file into the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico Thursday, July 2, 2009 on the first day of the UFO Festival.
By
updated 7/18/2012 6:01:13 PM ET 2012-07-18T22:01:13

Alien spacecraft and little green men remain elusive figures in the latest trove of official UFO files released July 12 by the United Kingdom government.

There's no smoking gun anywhere in the 6,700 pages, which represent the ninth collection of government UFO files made public by the U.K.'s National Archives in Kew. But the new batch, which contains documents dating from 1965 to 2008, are full of interesting tidbits nonetheless.

For example, the files recount the story of a hotel owner on the Welsh coast who said she spotted a UFO in 1977. She claimed to see an object the size of a minibus fall from the sky and land in a field at the back of her property.

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As she watched, two "faceless humanoids" clad in silver suits emerged from the mysterious craft, unnerving her so much that she asked the local authorities to investigate. [ Ten Alien Encounters Debunked ]

Somewhat surprisingly, they did. An officer from a nearby Royal Air Force base checked out the field, and other military personnel made some inquiries locally to get to the bottom of the mystery.

While the investigation didn't produce any definitive results, it did zero in on one likely explanation, said David Clarke, senior lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University and author of the book "The UFO Files: The Inside Story of Real-life Sightings" (The National Archives, 2009).

"It turned out that they suspected, as a result of this investigation, that someone had been involved in a practical joke, and that they'd borrowed a firefighting suit that had been on display in a local shop," Clarke said in a video produced by The National Archives to accompany the new release of UFO files.

"It was sort of white with a big black visor over the face," Clarke added. "This person had been walking around in this suit late at night, and maybe this had been what caused some of these weird sightings."

The new batch of documents also reveals what it was like to work at the U.K.'s UFO Desk, a Defence Ministry organization that assessed UFO reports for intelligence value before it shut down in late 2009.

The job wasn't quite as exciting as it perhaps sounds, according to a document written by a UFO Desk officer.

The idea of investigating unidentified flying objects "tends to suggest to the public that there are top secret teams of specialist scientists scurrying around the country in a real life version of 'The X-Files' …. [but] this is total fiction," the officer writes.

In reality, much of the work consisted of performing Internet searches, the officer added, according to National Archives officials.

The files also reveal a healthy dose of skepticism among governmental UFO investigators in the U.K. For example, in a 1978 briefing, one officer throws cold water on the thought that aliens may have visited our planet many times in the recent past.

"One is driven to the conclusion that a visit to an insignificant planet, such as the Earth, of an uninteresting star (the sun) would probably not occur more than once in 1,000 years or so, even if one assumes that every intelligent community makes, say, 10 launches a year," Clarke said in the video, reading the officer's report and paraphrasing his reasoning.

"He basically says that, therefore, claims of thousands of visits in the last decade by alien spacecraft to planet Earth is just too large a number to be credible," Clarke added.

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter@michaeldwallor SPACE.com@Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebookand Google+.

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Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

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  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

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  5. Accidental art

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  6. Supersonic test flight

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    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

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  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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