With the advancement of technology in the field of space, the Astronomy scientists Increasingly excited about the potential discoveries that could come from further explorations of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) a landExpectations are high and a period has already been put on the horizon: 25 years.
This is the time when alien life is expected to exist. At least that’s what ETH Zurich astrophysicist Sasha Kwanz noted during the opening of the University’s new Center for the Origin and Diffusion of Life.
During a press conference, Cowans detailed what technological projects are underway that could enable the discovery of extraterrestrial life. In addition, he spoke about the advances in knowledge about other planets in the past 27 years, after the discovery of the first exoplanet.
According to Quanz, astronomers now believe that there are a large number of exoplanets, many of which are similar to Earth, in conditions where life is possible. However, the astrophysicist points out a drawback: it is not yet known whether these planets have atmospheres and what their components are. To address this issue, it is suggested that these structures be investigated through an observational approach, using images captured of these planets.
The James Webb Space Telescope has released the first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star: the gas giant HIP 65426 b, a planet 12 times the size of Jupiter and 100 farther from its parent star. Although it was not designed to study exoplanets, James Webb has already made a number of breakthroughs in research on the topic, including the discovery of carbon dioxide and water in the atmospheres of many of them.
New tools to find extraterrestrial life
Fortunately, new, more sensitive tools aimed at this purpose are already being built. The same astrophysicist, with her team, is developing the Medium Infrared Imager and Spectrometer (METIS), the first instrument of its kind that will be part of the Very Large Telescope (ELT) in Chile.
Other projects such as LIFE (Large Interferometer for Exoplanets), a mission set in 2017, which is in the initial phase of a study and has not been formally approved or funded, are being discussed within the European Space Agency (ESA).
A specific space telescope will monitor a large number of exoplanets looking for traces of particles in their distant atmospheres that could indicate the presence of extraterrestrial life. According to Quanz, the new ETH Zurich center hopes to lay the foundations for such a mission and deepen studies in the field. “We need to gain a deeper understanding of the plausible building blocks of life, the pathways and timelines for chemical reactions, and external conditions to help us prioritize target stars and target planets,” he said.
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