NASA: We'll Find Alien Life in the Next 20 Years

Friday, 17 November 2017 - 3:05PM
Alien Life
Space
Friday, 17 November 2017 - 3:05PM
NASA: We'll Find Alien Life in the Next 20 Years
Image credit: Pixabay
NASA scientists have announced they're confident we'll discover alien life in the next 20 years. The hardest part: finding planets that could hold life as humankind understands it to be.

"We have to go with the kind of life we know," said Tony del Genio of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Dr. Del Geniois currently leads a NASA interdisciplinary initiative to find alien life and understands his efforts will also involve rooting through the vastness of space to sort out the spots that might best host living things.

"Before we go looking for life, we're trying to figure out what kinds of planets could have a climate that's conducive to life," del Genio said, "We're using the same climate models that we use to project 21st century climate change on Earth to do simulations of specific exoplanets that have been discovered, and hypothetical ones."

The mission will certainly involve earthbound knowledge and making sure we fully understand how life was discovered here, in what environments and how the Earth and all of its inhabitants impact each other. Another major player: liquid water. Every cell on our planet requires H2O in some way, at some time.

That helps narrow down the field of search somewhat, and research scientist Morgan Cable of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is taking her hunt to bodies in the solar system that may possibly hold liquid water. Candidates include some of the moons around Jupiter and Saturn

"We thought Enceladus was just boring and cold until the Cassini mission discovered a liquid water subsurface ocean," Cable says, referring to how the Cassini–Huygens mission spotted water shooting from the Saturnian moon, and that the chemical composition of that spray that resembles ocean chemistry.



The scientists involved are generally hopeful, but as Andrew Rushby, of NASA Ames Research Center, tells it, "It's (the discovery of life) been 20 years away for the last 50 years. I do think it's on the scale of decades," but then concludes, "If I were a betting man, which I'm not, I'd go for Europa or Enceladus."
 
Science
NASA
Alien Life
Space
NASA: We'll Find Alien Life in the Next 20 Years
No