The Search for Life


Charles-Etienne Simard, Journalist


NASA recently announced that the search for life on other planets will be their priority for at least 10 years.


Nasa’s goal is to find any form of life on other planets out of the solar system. “The coming decades will set humanity down a path to determine whether we are alone,” said the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine in their report on November 4th.


The main reason why NASA searches for life is to reveal information about us, how we arrived here and what might happen in the future of our planet. “We stand on the threshold of new endeavors and scientific capabilities that could transform our understanding of how galaxies form and how our universe began, said the report.


There are a lot of criteria that a planet must have to contain life on it. First, the planet needs to be in the habitable zone of its star. The habitable zone is an area at a certain distance from a star where a planet can host liquid water on its surface Second, the planet needs to have an atmosphere to keep the mandatory elements to create life. The most important ones are carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Third, the planets need an incredible amount of time and luck. These factors are very important but most people forget about them. A lot of other criteria need to be filled, but those three are the basic ones to at least have a chance to create life.


To find those exoplanets, the scientists will use high-tech tools, such as the TESS Telescope (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite). This tool will search exoplanets nearby bright stars and provide information about them. The MINERVA telescope in Arizona is dedicated to the search for exoplanets. This tool is the first observatory in the United States that is only used for the purpose of finding planets.


One of the best candidates is Kepler-62f, an exoplanet that certain people call a super-habitable planet. It means that it might have even better conditions for life than earth. Kepler-62f is either a terrestrial or ocean covered planet. A lot of other things need to be confirmed, but right now, it’s very promising.