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NASA scientists agree that aliens are out there

NASA held a panel discussion on Monday, July 14 in which scientists discussed extraterrestrial life.

The televised discussion took place at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC, and featured leading science and engineering experts who discussed the search for life beyond Earth. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden initiated the event by mentioning how he and fellow former astronaut John Grunsfeld are often asked if they have seen, or if they believe in life beyond Earth. Bolden comments, “I can’t speak for John . . . but, while I may not have actually encountered extraterrestrials . . . and I did not, as a matter of fact. Although I looked all the time. I have always been inquisitive. So I was looking really hard.”

NASA's July 14 panel discussion. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s July 14 panel discussion. (Credit: NASA)

He continues, “I would venture to say, however, that most of my colleagues here today, as well as probably most of you in the audience, are probably convinced that it’s highly improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone.”

The panel included:

  • John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator
  • Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist
  • John Mather, senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope
  • Dave Gallagher, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory director of astronomy and physics
  • Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute
  • Sara Seager, planetary scientist at MIT

These experts discussed the search for Earth-like planets, life on these planets, and the tools scientists are using in that search. Astrobiology Magazine explains, “Space missions, specialized telescopes, and unprecedented technological advances are underway at NASA to find signs of life, and eventually, extraterrestrials themselves.” Of course, the anticipated 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope was discussed. This incredible instrument will use infrared light to better detect exoplanets, and will help scientists explore the atomspheres of alien planets to see which of these worlds have the right chemical fingerprint to suggest they are home to extraterrestrial life.

James Webb Space Telescope

Artist conception of the James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA)

Still, detecting new planets is a difficult task. The brightness of stars is an obstacle in the search for exoplanets. As Astrobiology Magazine explains, “Earth, for example, is 10 billion times fainter than the Sun. The reflection of light waves given off into space from the surface of the planet is so minuscule in comparison to our star’s brilliance, that it is barely detectable.” Seager explained that a potential solution to this issue called a Starshade is in development. This device, shaped like huge sunflower, would manipulate light from distant stars away from planets so only the planet would be visible to the space telescope.

A Starshade with a simple telescope could help scientists on the ground hunt for another Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech)

A Starshade with a simple telescope could help scientists on the ground hunt for another Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech)

As she has stated several times previously, Seager commented, “We believe we are very close in terms of science and technology to finding another Earth, and signs of life on another world.” NASA astronomer Keven Hand agreed, stating, “I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe.”

The Los Angeles Times points out that a question posed to the panel via social media asked, “If scientists do find life on another planet, will the U.S. government let people know?” Stofan responded, “Of course we would! . . . That would be so amazingly exciting. We would try to get it out to the public as fast as we can. We want everyone to share in the excitement of discovery.”

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About Jason McClellan

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Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

5 comments

  1. avatar

    Well, at last, the answer we all neded to hear, The “sharing in discovery” part. I hope we can wrap our minds around the possible life we may find, its going to be interesting!

  2. avatar

    It took them this long to come to that conclusion or they are just letting us know now? I came to that conclusion 40 years ago.

  3. avatar

    Is the head at last lifting from the sand?I hope so.NASA in the past, has unfortunately been shadowed by a cloak of secrecy,its perceived policy of “no comment”whenever a discovery from images that possibly have been overlooked are controversial.
    Coming out of their cocoon is refreshing,please may it continue.

  4. avatar

    “If scientists do find life on another planet, will the U.S. government let people know?” Of course they won’t otherwise they would have already told us because they’ve had evidence of off earth life forms for decades. The biggest cover up of all time though is still the Billy Meier material.

  5. avatar

    Wow, what a totally awesome NASA discussion panel. We spend 100’s of millions dollars on long term
    scientific research to help find signs of life in the universe. Maybe we should spend a few 10’s of thousands of dollars on investigating the physical evidence that ET’s may have left on Earth either by accident or on purpose. Really tough to get main stream science to chase that path.

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