NASA announcement: Could it be aliens?
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The world waits with bated breath for a big announcement due from NASA on Wednesday. The announcement will take place at 1 PM Eastern time. What can we expect?
What is the great discovery? The world waits.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- Let's ask the big question, is NASA about to come clean about aliens? No. Is it a big asteroid headed right for us? Again, no. Such announcements would not be scheduled days in advance, but rather hours. Nor would officials be able to prevent such news from leaking.
Instead, the news is likely that NASA has discovered a significant number of planets beyond our Solar System capable of harboring life. Such discoveries are chief among NASA's research and will help us to answer some of the most important questions we have about ourselves and our place in the universe.
Some futurists have predicted that we will know if life exists beyond earth within a matter of years, or decades at most. Life bearing planets can be expected to have certain gasses in their atmospheres such as oxygen. The ability to measure the oxygen content of a distant planet close to its parent star is nearly refined. The pending launch of the James Webb space telescope will make this possible.
Far more powerful than the Hubble, the JWST will launch in October of 2018 and it will be able to make more detailed observations of exoplanets.
With the ability to evaluate these candidates for life, scientists will quickly be able to rule out, or rule in planets for detailed study.
Such a discovery would allow us to refine the Drake equation, which is a logical formula for calculating how likely it is other intelligent forms of life exist in our galaxy. There are several variables in the equation, and knowing the values of those variables makes the answer clearer.
Still, we are speculating. There could be another announcement on tap. Scientists could have made a major discovery in the space between our Solar System and the next star. Or, they could have discovered something at the edge of the observable universe that changes our understanding.
We won't know until it happens, but don't expect it to be about aliens or catastrophe. Instead, the news will be exciting for NASA and probably of some interest to some of us. What excites scientists does not always excite the public. But like a child who is excited about his own work, it's worthwhile to humor them.
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