Recent discoveries regarding water on other planets have scientists optimistic that we’re not alone in the universe.
Photo by Lewis Francis via Wikimedia Commons
At a panel discussion yesterday, NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan predicted that humans would discover evidence of alien life by 2025. According to the NASA website, Tuesday’s hour-long event focused on “the recent discoveries of water and organics in our solar system, the role our sun plays in water-loss in neighboring planets, and our search for habitable worlds among the stars.” The LA Times reports that the organization draws its newfound optimism about E.T.s from a number of new revelations regarding water on Mars and Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. The Times quotes Stofan:
“I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years,” she said. “We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.”
“I think we're one generation away in our solar system, whether it's on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star,” added John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate and a former astronaut.
These statements come at a time when wild claims about extraterrestrial life are flying hard and fast around us—have we already found aliens in our own stratosphere? (Eh…) Are other intelligent life forms apt to be 650-pound space monstrosities? ( ¯\\_(?)_/¯ ) Does Arizona have a UFO problem? (Likely.) Although Stofan’s timeline is still speculative, NASA’s willingness to weigh in at a forum like Tuesday’s panel reflects an increasing confidence that we are just around the corner from discovering something big. Just don’t expect any ALFs or Morks any time soon.
“We are not talking about little green men,” said Stofan. “We are talking about little microbes.”