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Scientists Could Find Signs Of Life On Other Planets By 2026 With New Space Telescope

by : Julia Banim on : 19 Apr 2021 18:45
Scientists Could Find Signs Of Life On Other Planets By 2026 With New Space TelescopeNASA/PA Images

A brand new space telescope could reportedly help scientists find signs of life on other planets as soon as the year 2026.

Research from Ohio State University found that the NASA James Webb space telescope – which is scheduled to launch in October this year from French Guiana – could well detect potential signs of extra-terrestrial life in as little as 60 hours.

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Just as the Hubble telescope did before it, the James Webb will orbit the sun, and will be used to observe the early universe and objects in greater detail.

telescopeESA / Hubble, M. Kornmesser

Although gas dwarf planets do indeed have the potential for life to flourish, they exist beyond our solar system, meaning scientists have so far found it difficult to determine whether or not their atmospheres potential signatures of life, such as ammonia.

Graduate student at Ohio State University, Caprice Phillips, has calculated that the telescope could feasibly detect ammonia surrounding six of these gas dwarf planets after just a few orbits.

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Phillips and her team were able to model how the telescope instruments might respond to a variety of clouds and atmospheric conditions, before producing a ranked list of where it should look for life.

James WebbNASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

Phillips said:

What really surprised me about the results is that we may realistically find signs of life on other planets in the next 5 to 10 years.

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She continued:

Humankind has contemplated the questions, ‘Are we alone? What is life? Is life elsewhere similar to us?’

My research suggests that for the first time, we have the scientific knowledge and technological capabilities to realistically begin to find the answers to these questions.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a large infrared telescope said to include an approximate 6.5 metre primary mirror, and will be launched into space on an Ariane 5 rocket.

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Formerly known as the ‘Next Generation Space Telescope’ (NGST) up until 2002, the ‘Webb’ as it’s sometimes referred to is expected to act as the premier observatory for the next decade, helping thousands of astronomers from across the globe.

According to NASA:

It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.

These exciting findings were presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Science, NASA, Now

Credits

American Physical Society and 1 other
  1. American Physical Society

    Abstract: K05.00002 : Detecting Biosignatures in the Atmospheres of Gas Dwarfs with JWST

  2. NASA

    The Premier Observatory Of The Next Decade