Scientists now more than ever, are inclined to believe that alien life does in fact exist out in space. Talk has shifted from if alien life will be discovered, to when it will be discovered. In response to those discussions, NASA said in a recent statement that they are confident that they will find conclusive evidence of life outside earth within the next 45 years.
At a recent panel discussion, NASA scientist Ellen Stofan said that she thinks we will have evidence of alien life within the next 20 to 30 years. The discussion was not only about NASA finding life, but also habitable planets. The two go hand in hand, Stofan said. Once we are able to identify planets that are habitable, then we will be able to know where to look for life. So with all of this combined, knowing where to look, how to look, and with the technology either existing, or being worked on, she definitely thinks that NASA is on their way.
Stofan does make the quick point that it is not so much little green men that NASA are looking for, but first the building blocks to life. The search is for microbes or molecular structures, that would be an indication of life being out there. Astronomers have already found evidence that one of Saturn’s moons may have an ocean, and that Jupiter’s moon Ganymede possibly has a salt water ocean. In either case, it is believed that both have all of the ingredients to support life as we know it.
NASA Scientists have made some great strides in knowing where to look for this life, which is half the battle. With the Hubble telescope pictures that have been sent back, and the overwhelming success of the Kepler mission, scientists are equipped with more accurate information on where to look. With Kepler’s amazing lens, it can detect the tiniest fraction in changes of light as each planet and star passes it by. This information can be used by scientists as an indicator on whether or not life could possibly exist on each passing planet and star.
The Mars rover Curiosity that is stationed on Mars now, continues to send back amazing new finds that dazzle scientists. A few weeks ago, it discovered organic molecules containing carbon and nitrogen, which both are elements integral in supporting life.
Science’s advancements in technology, and the ways that we are able to implement that technology also brings us that much closer to the discovery of extraterrestrial life. One US company has been given a grant for its plasma rocket that it has developed. The rocket has the capability of reaching Mars in 39 days. In the meantime, NASA themselves are already developing a saucer like Mars landing device, that will make it possible to land heavier spacecrafts on other planets.
Scientists are faced with two separate challenges now. One is finding habitable planets to live on, and the other, is finding the potential inhabitants of those planets. The third challenge of technology is no longer the hindrance it once was not so long ago. All of this makes it so NASA is closer than they have ever been to finding alien life, up above the heavens.
By Alec Rosenberg
Photo by Joshua Freyenberger – Flickr License