Since the beginning of time, man has been on an adventure to search for extraterrestrials, and the recent discovery of new exoplanets has once again sparked interest in the subject of life on other planets. Now, the US space agency, NASA is creating an organization to do research to help discover how these exoplanets, nearby stars, and other planetary bodies interact and how they could possibly support life. This group is called NExSS or Nexus for Exoplanet System Science.
Search for Extraterrestrials Means More Research, Studies
NExSS members will continue the adventure of the search for extraterrestrials by focusing on the discovery of exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets outside of our own solar system. The very first time an exoplanet was discovered was in 1995 and with the creation and launch of NASA’s Kepler space telescope in 1999, they have even more tools to look these extraterrestrial worlds.
NASA has already discovered thousands of exoplanets, but it takes time to categorize and study these worlds in the search for extraterrestrials, and the potential that any of them can sustaining life. For instance, most recently, more studies were done regarding some of these worlds in the Tau Ceti System, which is one of the closest other solar systems. Two worlds there, Tau Ceti e and f were in the right orbit to possibly contain life as we know it, but scientists decided that the mineral content and other factors showed that it likely wasn’t possible, so the search for extraterrestrials continues onward and outward.
NExSS Uses Aid from Other Science Communities
NExSS will receive help from several types of scientists in their adventure to search for extraterrestrials, including scientists in fields such as astrophysics, geology, earth science, heliophysics, and planetary science. NExSS is led by three people: Natalia Batalha from Ames Research Center, Anthony del Genio from Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Dawn Gelino, NASA Exoplanet Science Institute. The organization brings into play experts from 10 different colleges, three NASA centers, and two research institutes. Their main project in the search for extraterrestrials is called Exoplanets Unveiled, which will help answer questions about the properties of exoplanets, how they formed, and their potentials to have life as we know it.
New Tools in the Search for Extraterrestrials
In the next two or three years, a new satellite and a new space telescope will be launched that will help NExSS in their search for extraterrestrials. These are the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (scheduled launch 2017), the James Webb Space Telescope (scheduled launch 2018), and last but not least–the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (scheduled launch in the 2020s).
NExSS will help the people of Earth in their continuing adventure to search for extraterrestrials and try to answer the undying question of whether we are truly alone here in the vastness of our universe.