After repeated rantings, the US space agency NASA has finally launched its ambitious project to hunt for signs of life or aliens beyond our solar system as announced by its chief scientist last month.
Launching the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NexSS) project to probe on exoplanets after bringing together experts in earth science, planetary science, heliophysics and astrophysics together on one platform, NASA said its tryst for alien life should come true by 2045 at the most.
That makes NExSS include researchers from more than a dozen disciplines, universities and institutes.
NExSS scientists will apply a systems science approach to existing exoplanet data, allowing for interpretation of observations from future exoplanet missions such as TESS, JWST, and WFIRST.
NExSS will tap into the collective expertise from each of the science communities supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate:
- Earth scientists develop a systems science approach by studying our home planet.
- Planetary scientists apply systems science to a wide variety of worlds within our solar system.
- Heliophysicists add another layer to this systems science approach, looking in detail at how the Sun interacts with orbiting planets.
- Astrophysicists provide data on the exoplanets and host stars for the application of this systems science framework.
Since NASA’s space-based Kepler telescope has found more than 1,000 alien planets, NASA scientists are hopeful to find life at least on one of them.
They say five such exoplanets similar in size to the Earth with “habitable zones” where liquid water could persist, hence the scope to find some traces of life organism, if not green-headed humanoid-like aliens or extra-terrestrials.
NASA is now gearing up to detect light passing through exoplanet atmosphere to provide more clues to conditions on these distant worlds.