NASA: We are not alone

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NASA: We Are Not Alone

NASA says in the next two decades we could find alien life.

In a panel discussion at the Washington headquarters Monday, the agency said it's highly unlikely we're alone in the universe.

It believes advancements in telescope technology will help confirm the existence of other life on at least one of the 100 million worlds in our galaxy.

MIT professor Sara Seager explains, "Small planets are extremely common...1 in 5 sun-like stars may have a planet that is favorable, not too hot, not too cold but just right for life."

NASA outlined a plan to search for extraterrestrial life and announced the launch of another satellite, the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite, in 2017. An exoplanet is a planet that orbits a star outside the solar system.

Right now there are three big telescopes searching for signs of habitable conditions in space: The Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler Space Telescope.

Hubble

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NASA: We are not alone
The Hubble space telescope floats against the background of Earth after a week of repair and upgrade by Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts in 2002.
ASTRONAUT WORKING ON THE HUBBLE SPACE STATION
Hubble Space Telescope Over the Earth
"Costar," a detail of which is seen here, was used to correct focus in the Hubble Space Telescope, and is one of two new pieces from Hubble displayed in "Moving Beyond Earth," a new exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum, is seen at the museum in Washington, on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009. The new gallery leaves plenty of room to add new artifacts in the coming years as NASA retires the space shuttle program. After the current mission, only five missions remain. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble space telescope
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Spitzer

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NASA: We are not alone
Spitzer seen in visible light. The solar shield always faces the sun, allowing the spacecraft to remain very cold.
Spitzer departing the Earth soon after launch. Africa is prominently visible. The radio dish facilities at Hartebeesthoek, South Africa, will play a vital role in early communications after launch.
Using the unique orbit of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and a depth-perceiving trick called parallax, astronomers have determined the distance to an invisible Milky Way object called OGLE-2005-SMC-001. This artist's concept illustrates how this trick works: different views from both Spitzer and telescopes on Earth are combined to give depth perception. Our Milky Way galaxy is heavier than it looks, and scientists use the term dark matter to describe all the heavy stuff in the universe that seems to be present but invisible to our telescopes. While much of this dark matter is likely made up of exotic materials, different from the ordinary particles that make up the world around us, some may consist of dark celestial bodies, like planets, black holes, or failed stars, that do not produce light or are too faint to detect from Earth. OGLE-2005-SMC-001 is one of these dark celestial bodies. Although astronomers cannot see a dark body, they can sense its presence from the way light acts around it. When a dark body like OGLE-2005-SMC-001 passes in front of a bright star, its gravity causes the background starlight to bend and brighten, a process called gravitational microlensing. When the observing telescope, dark body, and star system are closely aligned, the microlensing event reaches maximum, or peak, brightness. A team of astronomers first sensed OGLE-2005-SMC-001's presence when it passed in front of a star in a neighboring satellite galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud. In this artist's rendering, the satellite galaxy is depicted as the fuzzy structure sitting to the left of Earth. Once they detected this microlensing event, the scientists used Spitzer and the principle of parallax to figure out its distance. Humans naturally use parallax to determine distance. Each eye sees the position of an object differently. The brain takes each eye's perspective and instantaneously calculates how far away the object is.
Spitzer seen against the infrared sky. The band of light is the glowing dust emission from the Milky Way galaxy seen at 100 microns (as seen by the IRAS/COBE missions). The cloud complexes around Orion and the disk of the Milky Way are seen behind the observatory.
Spitzer seen against the infrared sky. The band of light is the glowing dust emission from the Milky Way galaxy seen at 100 microns (as seen by the IRAS/COBE missions). Spitzer looks towards the Rho Ophiuchi star-formation region looming just above the disk of the Milky Way.
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Kepler

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Kepler telescope in universe
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Kepler has already found the majority of thousands of potential exoplanets believed to exist. Scientists believe every single star in the Milky Way has one potentially habitable planet.

The Webb Space Telescope will join the search in 2018.

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