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NASA: We Are Closing in On Finding Life On Another Planet

Space telescopes helping to track down Earth-like planets.

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA
By Brian Slupski

NASA is closing in on finding an Earth-like planet likely of supporting life and such a discovery could come in the next 20 years.

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realises that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” news.com.au quoted Matt Mountain,  director of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Mountain was speaking Monday at a panel discussion in which NASA scientist pondered the possibility of life elsewhere.

The Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, has been responsible for most of the planets NASA has been able to discover outside of our solar system. Cosmosup.com reported that Kepler is responsible for finding 5,000 potential planets with about 1,700 confirmed.

In 2018 NASA plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Webb telescope will help scientists see if a planet has the right chemical composition to support life.

"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," Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at MIT was quoted by the newspaper.

As space telescopes get bigger and more powerful, our ability to find smaller planets more similar to Earth becomes greater.

“I think in the next 20 years we will find out if we are not alone in the universe,” news.com.au quoted NASA Astronomer Kevin Hand said.
LG Loffelmacher July 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM
If your paycheck every month says "NASA" on it, and you're in charge of planets that have life on them what are you gonna do? same thing I would do, we're just about there boss........gimme another 20 years (so I can retire! ) and we should have it solved...........lol.........God says we're it right here on earth.........
Robert Anderson July 16, 2014 at 07:00 PM
But don't hold your breath while waiting.
Alfred E. Wilson July 16, 2014 at 08:29 PM
We're NOT alone in the universe! We share this planet with millions of wonderful organisms - though we're not very friendly to most of them. If any single, simple organism was found on another planet - at enormous expense! - we would treat that as truly fantastic; and yet we take our fellow Earthly organisms for granted. NASA's budget could save the whales (the largest animals that we know of in the history of the universe) and help protect rainforests and wetlands - the richest organic terrestrial areas in the universe (as far as we know!).
Marlon Brandy July 16, 2014 at 08:56 PM
Who cares? We have enough on our plate with the organisms already on earth. So we get somebody's radio signals that are two thousand years old. So what? How is that going to help us with the problems we have? NASA is really just a public test facility for the military anyway. Whatever they come up with is primarily for military applications.
John Pennell July 22, 2014 at 07:46 PM
Heard this one before. Astronomer Stephen Vogt, who said of Gliese 581 g, "Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent." and then suddenly it's not even a planet anymore: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/07/02/science.1253253

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