NASA launches astrobiology mission to search for alien life

Written by By Arthur Pfeiffer, CNN When NASA ended the Kepler space telescope — which was helping to search for alien life by the end of 2013 — it hoped a team of researchers…

NASA launches astrobiology mission to search for alien life

Written by By Arthur Pfeiffer, CNN

When NASA ended the Kepler space telescope — which was helping to search for alien life by the end of 2013 — it hoped a team of researchers would step in and pick up the search. And so they did.

A new team in astrobiology called the Water, Life, and Intelligence Community, to include researchers from NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Universities Space Research Association, the US Geological Survey, and others, has launched a new mission called GLAST.

It’s the second phase of the space agency’s space-based space-based potential discovery and life beyond Earth technology, also known as CryoResonance2. They call the findings “dramatic” and are pleased that NASA has agreed to use a Kepler Space Telescope, the precursor to GLAST, to search the heavens for signs of life.

NASA has come under fire in recent years for turning its back on the far reaches of the universe in favor of celebrating humankind’s role in cutting-edge space technologies and critical discoveries. We recently reported on a debate on Twitter over why NASA chose to go with a telescope more suited to tracking earthquakes than finding aliens.

The agency has announced a slew of new projects that will explore our cosmic home, from ocean-mapping satellites to new technologies that will help launch humans to Mars, while also undercutting criticisms about the current focus on humans.

The GLAST team says it’s not pleased with that direction, but is glad to have helped reskill engineers and scientists as the Earth’s own resources become scarcer.

“The GLAST mission is not just about searching for life outside Earth,” said Karl Battams, an astrobiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who is one of a group of six planetary scientists who developed the new mission. “It’s about saving the planet’s resource utilization systems from the developed market limitations brought about by rising global temperatures. In so doing, we hope to return humanity to planetary exploration in a way that we can take very seriously and on our terms.”

Glast does not look for life itself but detect tiny species of microorganisms.

Glast will use the core science capacities of the Hubble Space Telescope and other telescopes, NASA officials said in a statement

The site was selected for GLAST by a 12-member science team of scientists, who report to the new agency called the Water, Life, and Intelligence Community.

It will use the same telescope as the Kepler telescope that was decommissioned by NASA

This means it will continue to use some of the baseline and long-term findings from the Kepler mission to help identify potential places that could be habitable for alien life, said the statement from NASA.

In a statement, Eric Mamajek, Kepler’s project scientist and GLAST lead investigator said: “We are already very close to our goal of finding new and better habitability regions of the galaxy.”

“We look forward to the site being put into daily operations soon, and are very pleased to keep our transiting experiment in use.”

The site was selected for GLAST by a 12-member science team of scientists, who report to the new agency called the Water, Life, and Intelligence Community.

GLAST will use the core science capacities of the Hubble Space Telescope and other telescopes, NASA officials said in a statement.

It will focus on determining where alien life might live in the universe by analyzing molecules from deep space that reflect different types of life on Earth.

This will allow scientists to better understand how much energy life needs to maintain a constant presence in space.

GLAST aims to reveal exactly how habitable space really is beyond Earth’s atmosphere and special heat shields on spacecraft, including the famous orbiting International Space Station.

“Glast will help us, the public, better understand what conditions exist within deep space,” said Mike Kirkland, NASA’s associate administrator for space science. “We look forward to moving the mission forward in the coming months.”

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