A Swiss scientist believes that humankind is on the verge of discovering a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ life.
Our society is rapidly changing not only in a technological sense but also in a scientific one. Humankind is on the verge of landing on another world, a feat we should be able to achieve in less than a decade. In terms of space exploration, the recently-launched James Webb Space Telescope has changed the way we see the universe. If there is life out there in the cosmos, then the JWST will help scientists find it.
Interestingly, and while we still have no official confirmation of a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ life, the U̳F̳O̳ phenomenon has become extremely popular, not only among more and more people around the world but among scientists, the military, and the government. Evidence of this change is, for example, NASA’s recently launched U̳F̳O̳ group, a team of astrophysicists who will attempt to answer what exactly U̳F̳O̳s are and where they come from. Curiously, the US Congress has made several comments on the U̳F̳O̳ (UAP) phenomena, going as far as to imply that U̳F̳O̳s are not of this world.
And while we love to believe, we do not have scientific evidence, or at least it isn’t available to the larger public.
Bold predictions about a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ life
According to a scientist employed by the Swiss government, a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ life is likely to be discovered within the next few decades. Space.com reports that Swiss Federal Institute of Technology professor Dr. Sascha Quanz believes humans are likely to discover life outside of Earth in 25 years.
During the opening of the institute’s new Center for the Origin and Prevalence of Life earlier in September, Quanz said his colleague [and Noble Prize winner] Didier Queloz discovered the first planet outside our solar system in 1995. Over 5,000 exoplanets have been discovered so far, and more are being discovered every day.”
To be more precise, as of writing, there are 5,084 confirmed a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ worlds, and there are 8,912 candidate planets awaiting confirmation.
It is estimated that there are thousands of exoplanets in our galaxy that are either potentially habitable or have surface conditions that might support liquid water. Those numbers are constantly growing. We now need to pay closer attention to these fascinating worlds, and telescopes like James Webb could be the initial step to take. By writing initial, I mean that the telescope, although one of the most advanced ever built by us, still cannot take close-up photographs of distant worlds. We need something bigger. But as a first step, James Webb can analyze the atmosphere of distant worlds in an attempt to “sniff out” a chemical that can be indicative of life.
According to the Swiss professor, it is necessary to study the atmospheres of these planets. “We need an observational approach that would allow us to take pictures of these planets.”
James Webb is good by not enough
A photo of a distant a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ world has already been captured by the James Webb Space Telescope after just two months of operation. Even so, it focuses on getting images of old stars and is not powerful enough, as Quanz said, to take images of smaller planets. And this is where two of Quanz’s projects come into play. As part of one of his a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳-hunting projects, he is developing a giant ground-based instrument that will be incorporated into the Extremely Large Telescope currently being built in Chile. The second mission to search for a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳s is a European Space Agency mission that aims to send spacecraft out into deep space to try and find ex̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ life.
Space.com reports that the ESA has yet to approve or fund LIFE (which stands for Large Interferometer for Exoplanets), a project conceived in 2017 and still in its early study phase. In spite of this, Quanz described LIFE as a possible large mission within the ESA science program in the future. And this is actually a huge deal, because more and more scientists are coming to accept the possibility that we are not alone in the universe.
According to Quanz, a 25-year deadline isn’t unrealistic when it comes to looking for life elsewhere in the universe. And while the astrophysicist says there is no guarantee that the project will succeed. “But we’re going to learn other things on the way,” he noted.