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Nasa chief scientist believes we will have definitive evidence of alien life in 20 years

Nasa believes discoveries could happen so soon as they will not take place in deep space but in our own solar system and others in the Milky Way

Published 08/04/2015

Nasa believes discoveries could happen so soon as they will not take place in deep space but in our own solar system and others in the Milky Way
Nasa believes discoveries could happen so soon as they will not take place in deep space but in our own solar system and others in the Milky Way

The discovery of extra-terrestrial life, probably the most exciting event in human history, may well take place within most of our lifetimes, a high-ranking Nasa scientist has predicted.

"I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," Nasa chief scientist Ellen Stofan said on Tuesday, during a panel discussion focusing on the space agency's search for habitable environments outside of Earth.

"We know where to look. We know how to look," Stofan added, "In most cases we have the technology, and we're on a path to implementing it. And so I think we're definitely on the road."

Nasa believes such discoveries could happen so soon as they will not take place in deep space but in our own solar system and others in the Milky Way.

Life 'chemistry' found in star system  

Sharing Stofan's optimism, associate administrator for Nasa's Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld said: "I think we're one generation away in our solar system, whether it's on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star."

If life, in whatever form it takes, is found in orbit of the Sun, it could well be on Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede or Saturn's satellite Enceladus, which hold seas beneath their icy surfaces.

The Milky Way is "a soggy place," Paul Hertz, director of Nasa's Astrophysics Division, explained.

"We can see water in the interstellar clouds from which planetary systems and stellar systems form.

"We can see water in the disks of debris that are going to become planetary systems around other stars, and we can even see comets being dissipated in other solar systems as [their] star evaporates them."

Strong indications of life beyond Earth could be found within a decade
Strong indications of life beyond Earth could be found within a decade

These estimates don't even take into account the fact that alien life may be able to prosper in conditions different to those required by humans, e.g without need for water.

Further reading

Life 'chemistry' in star system  

SETI astronomers tell US Congress: 'possibility of alien life close to 100%' 

Euro-telescope may find alien life

Saturn's moon Enceladus increases chances of finding alien life in our Solar System as evidence emerges of large ocean beneath its surface

Aliens 'wouldn't faze modern world'

Nasa beamed messages to aliens

US defence system hacker fails in latest bid to avoid extradition  

Nasa bid to solve magnetic mystery

Queen's University astronomer leads international team to detect a Super Earth

'Send aliens the rules of cricket'

Scientists discover the most Earth-like planet ever along with seven other worlds that could hold life and water in the 'Goldilocks zone'

 

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