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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Finding alien life: Not if, but when

Ganymede   (NASA photo)
NASA is no longer using the “if” word for prefacing discussions about finding alien life.

As far as Interim Director of Heliophysics Jeffrey Newmark is concerned, the “if” is now a “when.”  Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan adds:  We know where to look, we
know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.

Nevertheless, Stofan cautions that “alien life” does not necessarily mean “little green men.”  It might instead mean “little [very little] microbes.”

What leads these esteemed scientists to  believe that life exists beyond Earth? Recent discoveries on Mars suggest that “50 percent of the planet’s northern hemisphere once had oceans up to a mile deep for… up to 1.2 billion years.”  Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is now   known to have “a large liquid ocean beneath its icy crust.”

Director of Planetary Science Jim Green thus concludes that “the solar system is really a soggy place.”  Since water and life are closely linked, “soggy” bodes well for astrobiological exploration.


Copyright April 7, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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