Are We Alone in the Universe? NASA Calls for New Framework

TRAPPIST-1 f super Earth exoplanet (Credit: NASA)

by Elizabeth Landau
NASA Headquarters

How do we understand the significance of new scientific results related to the search for life? When would we be able to say, “yes, extraterrestrial life has been found?” 

NASA scientists are encouraging the scientific community to establish a new framework that provides context for findings related to the search for life. Writing in the journal Nature, they propose creating a scale for evaluating and combining different lines of evidence that would  ultimately lead to answering the ultimate question: Are we alone in the universe?   

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Galileo Project for the Systematic Scientific Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial Technological Artifacts

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 26, 2021 (Galileo Project PR) – The multi-institutional, international Galileo Project founders, research team and advisory boards, in conjunction with the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, today announce the Galileo Project (website: projects.iq.harvard.edu/galileo). It is a transparent scientific project to advance a systematic experimental search for cross-validated evidence of potential astroarcheological artifacts or active technical equipment made by putative existing or extinct extraterrestrial technological civilizations (ETCs).

The goal of the Galileo Project is to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends to the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research.

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Plan to Identify Watery Earth-like Planets Develops

PENN STATE PRESS RELEASE

Erie, Pa. – Astronomers are looking to identify Earth-like watery worlds circling distant stars from a glint of light seen through an optical space telescope and a mathematical method developed by researchers at Penn State and the University of Hawaii.

“We are looking for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of their star, a band not too hot nor too cold for life to exist,” says Darren M. Williams, associate professor of physics and astronomy, Penn State Erie, the Behrend College. “We also want to know if there is water on these planets.”

For life to exist, planets must have habitable temperatures throughout a period long enough for life to evolve. For life as we know it, the planet must have a significant amount of water. Scientists already know how to determine the distance a planet orbits from its star, and analysis of light interacting with molecules in the atmosphere can indicate if water exists. However, Williams and Eric Gaidos, associate professor of geobiology, University of Hawaii, want to identify planets with water on their surfaces.

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