News / Science & Technology

Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life 'Within Reach' Says NASA

File - Drawing of how exoplanet 'PH2 b' might look from its moon (Univ. Oxford/Haven Giguere)
File - Drawing of how exoplanet 'PH2 b' might look from its moon (Univ. Oxford/Haven Giguere)

Related Articles

Ancient Subsurface Ocean Could Have Flowed on Pluto's Moon Charon

Notion of liquid water on body 29 times further away from the Sun than Earth seems far fetched given the surface temperature on Charon is minus 229 Celsius

NASA: Titan's Ocean Likely 'as Salty as Dead Sea'

Discovery by US space agency researchers makes it less likely Saturn's moon harbors life as we know it

'Godzilla of Earths' Exoplanet Discovered

Kepler-10c weighs 17 times as much as Earth
VOA News

NASA scientists say they’re closer than ever to finding life beyond Earth.
 
At a July 14 panel discussion, several leading NASA scientists outlined the agency’s roadmap to find life and looked back on the discoveries that paved the way.
 
While NASA continues to look for life in the solar system, namely on Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the panel was focused on the search for life outside the solar system.
 
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, opened the discussion saying “it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone."
 
One major advancement in the discovery of worlds outside the solar system has been the Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009. It has been critical in expanding the knowledge of exoplanets, discovering most of the 5,000 potential exoplanets, 1,700 of which have been confirmed.
 
One of those planets is an Earth-size planet orbiting the habitable zone of a star. The habitable zone is the distance from a star where liquid water can exist. Liquid water is considered to be a key ingredient for life as we know it.
 
Kepler’s discoveries have led scientists to conclude that there are potentially billions of planets in the galaxy.
 
"Sometime in the near future, people will be able to point to a star and say, 'that star has a planet like Earth'," says Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts in a statement. "Astronomers think it is very likely that every single star in our Milky Way galaxy has at least one planet."
 
A major step in discovering potential extraterrestrial life will be the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017, James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope - Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets early in the next decade.
 
These will eventually allow scientists to determine if an exoplanet has atmospheric water vapor or carbon dioxide and better measure other atmospheric chemicals.
 
"With the James Webb, we have the first capability of finding life on other planets, but we have to get lucky; we have to beat the odds," said Seager.
 
The panel opened up to questions from the public, and a viewer asked if extraterrestrial life were discovered, would the government let the public know.
 
“Of course we would,” replied Ellen Stofan, NASA's chief scientist.

Here's a video of the entire discussion:

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jennifer Nodine from: United States
July 22, 2014 4:09 PM
Funny how the mainstream view changes according to what scientists announce (not to mention The Vatican). Soon, people who don't believe in aliens from space will be considered crazy and people who knew all along won't be scoffed at anymore.

by: ReduceGHGs from: Oregon
July 18, 2014 1:41 AM
Meanwhile, here on earth the only "intelligent" life we know of seems to be hell-bent on destroying itself or at least making life harder and harder for future generations. It's irrational to continue pollution the atmosphere as if it were an endless waste disposal site. There are consequences. Read what the experts say then join the efforts to change course.
Google: NASA Climate Change Consensus

ExhaustingHabitability(dot)org

by: Vlad Sandulescu from: Toronto, ON
July 16, 2014 4:51 PM
There isn't another place inhabited. We've looked everywhere.
In Response

by: Jennifer Nodine from: United States
July 22, 2014 4:11 PM
No, my friend. We have only scratched the surface.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 8:07 PM
Not sure that looking on the moon and Mars qualifies as 'looked everywhere.'

by: Balaraju from: India
July 16, 2014 12:09 PM
Since Mars is so close to earth, is there any explanation of why we have not found even signs of simple life forms in the polar regions where some water is available? Any vegetation in that area should be visible even from the air.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 16, 2014 2:38 AM
This is ludicrous! Life anywhere in the universe is total BS. Nowhere does Genesis mention anything about life other than the Garden of Eden. Just because their are billions upon billions of stars, well.............God just made those to entertain us. Something to look at, at night. Kind of like the Christmas lights, just for something to please the eyes. That's all.

The billions upon billions of stars, we must be insane to think that no prophet of God ever made mention of any life beyond the earth. The only place in the entire universe capable of life.

OK, enough of my sarcastic rant, just want the bible-thumpers to chime in. I do believe in God, the Abramic God, but I am a realist, and based on humanity (created in his image), so was God. A realist.

We will inevitably learn that God did create life, and life only. And life took on a creation of it's own, no matter where in the universe. That will satisfy both Creationists and Evolutionists. It's settled, now who wants to play Trivial Pursuit? I'm blue!
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 22, 2014 2:48 AM
Hi Kevin, we are residents of the same place. Of course, I was being sarcastic for all these books that were written by men to justify religious nonsense. Again, I do believe in God, I don't believe He wants us to worship Him like this!!! I believe that if we take care of each other and this global abode, then that's more than enough worship He needs. Humanity is performing some of the most horrific evils in the world for the past 100 years most in the name of religion, why haven't we evolved past religion? I do not know. Yes, the stories are quite a stretch.................since Noah gathered all the animals in the world, the kangaroos were obviously great swimmers!!!!! But Noah didn't allow the unicorns on the Ark, that explains why they disappeared! just playing.
In Response

by: Kevin Franca from: Earth
July 21, 2014 11:59 PM
You realize that is all from a book, right...?
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 16, 2014 9:02 AM
you are too narrow minded

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs