NASA Determined to Find Alien Life
NASA is determined to probe our neighboring celestial bodies in the hopes to find alien microbial life within 20-30 years, said NASA scientist Ellen Stofan back in April of this year at the “Solar System and Beyond” panel conference in Washington.
For the scientists, the most interesting places to look for life are other worlds which fall within the Galactic Habitable Zones around stars similar to our own. The researchers at NASA are primarily looking for rocky planets that may contain water. Scientists estimate that the search for life is about one generation away from making that discovery and NASA has many new projects currently in the works.
Dr. Paul Hertz, a director of Astro-physics at NASA, stated that in 2017, they plan to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Satellite (T.E.S.S.) which will initially look for rocky and gas giant planets (that fall within the habitable zones) that are located around the closest stars to the Earth. Through the use of a method called Transit Spectroscopy, NASA will look for any star light that filters through the planet’s atmosphere which will then absorb different colors of light from their star. Using this method, they are able to determine the kinds of molecules which are contained in the planets’ atmosphere, thus aiding scientists in determining possible life bearing candidates.
For the planets that are dominant with water that are discovered by the Transiting Exoplanet Satellite, the James Webb Telescope (which is set to launch in October of 2018) will also utilize Transit Spectroscopy to detect the appropriate types of molecules in their atmosphere as well.
“We know where to look. We know how to look,” says NASA scientist Ellen Stofan.
“In most cases, we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it.”
She also noted, “We are not talking about little green men. We are talking about little microbes.”
A former Astronaut and fellow college of Stofans’ , John Grunsfeld noted
“I think we’re one generation away in our solar system, whether it’s on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star”.