Zee Media Bureau
Washington: Signs of life beyond Earth could be found within 10 years, astrobiologists told House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Wednesday.
Sara Seager, a physics and planetary science professor at MIT and recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Genius Grant, said that the US is standing on a great threshold in the human history of space exploration. She also emphasised on the need to keep up the funding to maintain pace in space race.
Expressing hope that discovery of simple life forms off Earth could occur in near future Seager told the Congress that NASA`s Kepler telescope has found that about 20 percent Sun-like stars should host an Earth-size planet outside of our solar system that can hold and sustain life.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), that is scheduled to launch in 2018, is capable of studying the atmospheres of such "exoplanets," and a separate mission scheduled for launch in 2017 is going to be surveying nearby stars for such planets.
Seager said that finding actual life is going to probably take a telescope having technology beyond the capabilities of the JWST, and once that happens, results would be coming in quickly.
The hearing entitled `Astrobiology: Search for Biosignatures in our Solar System and Beyond` was aimed to collect information on the state of astrobiology — the study of life`s origin, evolution, distribution and future in the universe — as well as plans for future research and expeditions.
With Agency inputs