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Business News/ Science / Aliens? Scientists say it would be ‘surprising if there was no life’ in the Universe beyond Solar System
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Aliens? Scientists say it would be ‘surprising if there was no life’ in the Universe beyond Solar System

Detection of potential signs of life on a distant planet, have fuelled optimism about discovery of life beyond Solar System.

Several missions are underway to find potential signs of life on a distant planets. (Pixabay)Premium
Several missions are underway to find potential signs of life on a distant planets. (Pixabay)

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope recently detected potential signs of life on a distant planet that has fuelled optimism among scientists about the existence of life outside the Solar System, reported the BBC.

“We live in an infinite Universe, with infinite stars and planets. And it's been obvious to many of us that we can't be the only intelligent life out there," the publication quoted Professor Catherine Heymans at Scotland's Astronomer Royal as saying.

On Earth, certain gas is produced by simple marine organisms whose possibility was detected in the atmosphere of the K2-18b planet that is 120 light years away from the Earth. The planet is at the appropriate distance from its star known as ‘the Goldilocks zone.’ The surface temperature is expected to be neither too hot nor too cold for there to be a possibility of liquid water that is essential to support life.

Also read: Watch: ‘Aliens’ found in Mexico; mysterious corpses cause stir among scientists, DNA found has no known parallels

Professor at Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University Nikku Madhusudhan who led the study said that if the signs of life are confirmed "it would radically change the way we think about the search for life".

He predicted that, within five years, there would be a significant transformation in our understanding of life in the Universe and said, that finding nothing would also "provide important insights into the possibility of life on such planets. Even if K2-18b doesn't show signs of life, the team has 10 more Goldilocks planets on their list to study.

Also read: ‘Anybody there?’ Aliens may respond to message sent 40 years ago, Japanese astronomers hopeful

While Nasa's powerful JWST has limitations, so NASA is developing the Habitable Worlds Observatory telescopes and the European Southern Observatory is constructing the Extremely Large Telescope. These telescopes will help in examining the atmospheres of planets similar to Earth.

Some scientists are focusing their search for life on our Solar System, particularly on icy moons like Europa, which has an ocean beneath its icy surface. Missions like NASA's Clipper and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) aim to explore these by the early 2030s.

When asked about if there was a possibility of finding life, lead scientist of the European mission Professor Michelle Dougherty said, “It would be surprising if there wasn't life on one of the icy moons of Jupiter."

NASA's Dragonfly mission is set to land on one of Saturn's moons, Titan, which has exotic features like lakes and carbon-rich chemicals. Meanwhile, Mars is currently inhospitable for living organisms but with its ancient river delta, astrobiologists believe that it inhabited life with a thick atmosphere and oceans.

Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) institute has been making strides in the hunt for extra-terrestrial life, with modernised telescope arrays and a focus on powerful laser pulse signals from distant planets. Director of Seti's Carl Sagan Center for the 'Study of Life in the Universe' Dr Nathalie Cabrol said the institute had modernised its telescope array and had been using instruments to look for communications from powerful laser pulses from far away planets.

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"If we find signs of life, it will be a revolution in science and it is also going to be a massive change in the way humanity looks at itself and its place in the Universe," said Dr Subhajit Sarker of Cardiff University, reported the BBC.

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Published: 04 Oct 2023, 11:07 AM IST
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