For thousands of years, humans have been wondering whether there's life elsewhere in the universe. Now, the technology finally exists to search for it.
To find extraterrestrial life, be it microbes or intelligent life, scientists need telescopes capable of detecting Earth-like planets in Earth's neighborhood and ways to detect biological signatures of life or signs of alien technology. While some of these tools already exist, astrobiologists asked the U.S. Congress Dec. 4 to invest in the next chapter of the search for life beyond Earth.
"This is the first time in human history we have the technological reach to find life on other planets," Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at MIT, said at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing today. "People will look back at us as the [generation] who found Earth-like worlds." [9 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]
Are we alone?
Astrobiology — the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe — has taken a leap forward over the past few years. Members of the science committee expressed enthusiasm for the field's progress.
"Astrobiology has become a crosscutting theme of all NASA space science endeavors," and continued funding is important, said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas).
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