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

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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


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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs