Is it finally time to meet our neighbors in the universe? According to science, the time is upon us, just lurking right around the corner. In the next 20 years, we may find extraterrestrial life, and many questions will finally be answered.
What should we expect?
We might not be greeted by big-head aliens or flying saucers, but what we will experience is a monumental breakthrough for humankind. Top NASA scientists say we are close, so close we can smell it! In fact, our instruments and equipment have become so advanced that we are expected to find life, probably microbial, around the year 2025.
NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofen says,
“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.”
How do we know?
The reason for our confidence in the discovery of alien life is because we have been studying the habitability of other planets in the universe. NASA recently found at least two habitable planets surrounding large stars in the universe. These planets, considered to be in the “goldilocks zone” (areas of habitable temperatures and atmosphere), are the keys to life. These planets can also provide liquid water.
Now, it is known that habitable planets surround large stars, like our own organized solar system. Sometimes habitable planets, however, are “moons” orbiting larger planets. For example, Jupiter’s moon Europa has vast oceans, kept partially thawed due to the gravitational pull of Jupiter. This moon, 400 million miles away from our sun, has great potential for microscopic aquatic life forms. Jupiter has another satellite as well –Ganymede. Both Ganymede and Europa have a great chance at being habitable.
Jupiter’s closest neighbor, Saturn, has a habitable satellite as well – Enceladus. It was discovered that Enceladus also has a subsurface ocean with active geysers which emit sand, water, and ice.
Some of the most striking evidence, however, comes from a planet very close to our own – Mars. The red planet once had flowing streams and rivers, not to mention oceans and seas as well. This is a strong indication that life once existed and still thrives at a subsurface level. To top it off, scientists recently found nitrogen compounds, an important compound for life.
Although we have exceptional tools to discover life, we can only advance in the near future. For example, by the year 2022, NASA hopes to embark upon a trip to Europa. Until then, scientists will use the James Webb telescope to examine nearby super planets. We are almost there! Stay tuned and stay updated!