While it might not happen as Hollywood imagined, in the form of a massive invasion of round flying saucers and beady-eyed alien creatures, NASA experts believe that the human race is shockingly close to discovering extra-terrestrial life very soon!
Because of highly sophisticated research tools and methods, scientists think that we might be able to identify the presence of alien life, most likely microbial, by 2025.
“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,” said NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan at a recent panel discussion in Washington. “We know where to look. We know how to look. In most cases, we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it.”
Several recent scientific revelations have increased the likelihood of discovering foreign life forms. Stars within our own galaxy, for example, have been found to host smaller planets that lie within the correct distance from light and heat sources to allow for liquid water to exist on their surfaces. Scientists refer to this optimal distance range as the “Goldilocks zone.”
And it’s not only stars that can host planets hospitable to oxygen-based life – even giant planets could have habitable zones. For example, Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa (400 million miles from the sun), is home to a vast ocean. The water of Europa’s underground ocean does not freeze because of strong tidal forces caused by gravity. Could there be life in this vast entity?
The lesser-known moon of the planet Saturn, Enceladus, has also come to the attention of galactic life-seekers after the discovery of a liquid water ocean below its frozen surface. Scientists have also observed what seem to be active geysers on the surface of Enceladus, suggesting geo-thermal activity below.
Science also tells us that Mars, now scorched and barren, has a history of water-filled lakes, oceans and rivers, which might have provided the necessary components for life.
As NASA’s observatories and equipment become more innovative and powerful , the likelihood of finding extraterrestrial life forms always increases. A space mission to Europa is being planned for 2022. NASA also plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope, with the goal of investigating the atmospheres of “super-Earths,” (exoplanets with masses greater than our own planet) for gasses that serve as forensic evidence of life. It seems that we can look forward to some exciting news from outer space.