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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs