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)

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    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:

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    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

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