NASA’s hunt for Alien begins

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NASA’s hunt for Alien beginsOne of the foremost exercises in astronomy today is the search for alien worlds and ultimately, the existence of life beyond planet Earth.

NASA has announced an unprecedented effort to try and discover life in the far reaches of space outside of our own solar system.They will create a group known as the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, which will be known as “NExSS”. The purpose of the group will be to reach a better understanding of exoplanets and how stars and planets could interact to create the conditions that would make life possible.

The effort by Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is part of a broader push to identify Earth-like worlds.

“This interdisciplinary endeavor connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life,” said Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science.

Nasa’s space-based Kepler telescope has pinpointed more than 1,000 alien planets by observing the brief interruption of starlight that signals a planet passing in front of its parent star. At least five of these planets are similar in size to Earth and located in the ‘habitable zone’, where liquid water could persist.

“We have to start thinking about these things as more than planetary objects,” said Anthony Del Genio, a climate modeller who is leading the GISS effort.

Del Genio’s group is one of 16 — ranging from Earth and planetary scientists to solar physicists and astrophysicists — that are participating in NASA’s new Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) programme.

The effort has an initial annual budget of roughly US$10 million to $12 million.