NASA seems to be particularly interested in finding out whether or not we are alone in the universe.
Their latest step in the hunt for alien life includes the creation of the Center for Life Detection Science (CLDS) where scientists will be busy dealing with one of the oldest questions in the history of mankind, “are we alone out there?”
So, what is the CLDS, and how will they look for alien life?
The “Center for Life Detection Science” will reportedly be a part of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and will combine a “new consortium of researchers” both members of NASA and not, whose field of expertise includes physical science, biology, astrophysics and beyond, explains a NASA statement.
“The search for life beyond Earth cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach… to give ourselves the best shot at success, we need to develop tools and strategies that are tailored to detecting life in the unique conditions of other worlds, which are very different not only from Earth but also from each other,” explained Tori Hoehler, the principal investigator of CLDS and a researcher at Ames.
It is expected that CLDS members will work side by side with colleagues of Georgetown University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“We now have the scientific and engineering expertise to address this profound question [are we alone?] with the clarity of scientific evidence — and we have a great community of scientists ready for that grand challenge,” added Hoehler.
The plan is to have scientists from Georgetown’s Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures examining “fingerprints of life” and will work in an attempt to identify life “as we don’t know it” from far away places where the definition of life could be very different from what we know it here on Earth.
Experts from Georgia Tech’s Oceans Across Space and Time team will study the possibility of past or present life in the solar system’s icy, outer moons and Mars.
And that could be one of the best things NASA did in the search for alien life in decades.
It was wrong to assume that life in the universe could, or should be similar to what we have here on Earth.
Since we have explored so little of the cosmos and the only places other than Earth we’ve set foot (and wheels on) are the Moon, Mars, and Venus, it is hard to theorize about what life could look like elsewhere.
Maybe life, on distant alien moons or exoplanets does not need oxygen and water to survive. Maybe life on distant worlds needs the opposite to survive.
Maybe distant alien planets have atmospheres completely toxic for human life but are adequate for ‘different forms’ of life that are unlike anything we see here on Earth.