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NASA: Habitable worlds with alien life are definitely out there (+Video)

In a public lecture held at the NASA Headquarters in Washington on July 14, experts talked about the discovery of potentially habitable worlds. NASA scientists estimate that in 20 years, humans will find life outside Earth. "It's highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone," Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, said during the lecture.

NASA: Habitable worlds with alien life are definitely out there (+Video)

Experts from NASA and its partner institutions addressed the one question everyone wanted to know the answer to...."What are the next steps to finding life elsewhere?" Responding to this concern, NASA explained that they have made great efforts in recent years with various space-based assets such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Kepler Space Telescope.

For example, thanks to the data collected by Kepler (space observatory), which was launched into space 5 years ago, experts estimate that almost all the stars in our galaxy has at least one planet orbiting it.

According to Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Institute in Baltimore, the chance of finding life and habitable worlds seems far more realistic than it did five years ago now that experts think that 10 to 20 percent of the stars in the sky could host habitable planets.

Experts told members of a Congressional science committee on Wednesday that it seems very likely that we will discover signs of potential life in the galaxy within the next few decades, The Register wrote.

"It's within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever," Mountain said in a statement. "Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over - the possibility we're no longer alone in the Universe."

In the panel discussion, where different experts from NASA and its partner institutions were, it was noted that the estimate is that within the next 20 years we will indeed find extraterrestrial life, but the most likely scenario is that it is beyond our solar system.

"Sometime in the near future, people will be able to point to a star and say, 'that star has a planet like Earth'," says Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at MIT.

During the discussion experts also talked about future plans for the search for extraterrestrial life. Definitely, one of the most important projects regarding this matter will be the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, a device that will greatly help to see if any of those billions of planets have the chemical fingerprint necessary to harbor life.

Although only about a dozen planets have been confirmed in the habitable zone, the Kepler spacecraft has identified a further 54 candidates and current estimates indicate that there are "at least 500 million" planets in habitable zones in the Milky Way galaxy.

On 4 November 2013 astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way, 11 billion of which may be orbiting Sun-like stars. The nearest such planet could be 12 light-years away, according to the scientists. Earth is the only known example of an inhabited planet in the universe, so the search for alien life has focused on Earth-like worlds.

What's your take on NASA's habitable worlds discussion? Do you believe we will find extraterrestrial life within the next 20 years?

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