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 Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Tattoos, hookah bars and doughnuts? Google Maps lays out what people really have on their minds during the holiday

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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs