WASHINGTON D.C., (KOIN 6) — A NASA panel held Tuesday focused on the recent discoveries of water and organics in our solar system, but it was one scientist’s remarks on the potential for finding alien life that caught the nation’s attention.
“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade,” NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan said. “I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20-30 years.”
Stofan and her colleagues explained why the next generation should expect to see profound advancements when it comes to interplanetary science.
“We’re on the verge of things that people have wondered about for millennia,” Stofan said. “Within all of our lifetimes we’re going to understand that there is life on other bodies in the solar system. We’re going to understand the implications of that for life here on Earth.”
Jeff Newmark, NASA’s Interim Director of Heliophysics, said it’s a matter of “when, not if” when it comes to discovering life beyond Earth.
“The pace of our discovery is amazing,” Newmark said. “We will be visiting Pluto, the last of the planets that we haven’t seen… we will be visiting our nearest star in a few years. We’re just continuing to discover what is out there.”Jeff Newmark, NASA’s Interim Director of Heliophysics, said it’s a matter of “when, not if” when it comes to discovering life beyond Earth.
Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope recently discovered powerful evidence of water on five of Jupiter and Saturn’s moons.
“Perhaps the most surprising water worlds are the five icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn that show strong evidence of oceans beneath their surfaces: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto at Jupiter, and Enceladus and Titan at Saturn,” a NASA news release said.
As scientists continue to uncover evidence of water throughout our solar system, others have already discovered more than 1,000 new exoplanets, including two believed to be similar to Earth, thanks to the Kepler telescope which was launched in 2009.
“Given that the right building blocks are out there, given that there’s water out there, that’s what makes us really lean towards looking for life like it is here on Earth,” Stofan said.
NASA is currently gearing up to send the first humans to Mars in 2020, a move that scientists say will greatly increase the chances of discovering evidence of otherworldly life.