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NASA Says We’ll Find Alien Life Within 30 Years, Implements Plans to Make It Happen

Make it so!

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Bold claims from the house of Bolden: NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan has said that they expect to find alien life within 20 to 30 years. It’s not just talk, either—they’ve got projects in the works to get the job done.

io9 reports that at a panel on the search for habitable exoplanets early this month, Stofan said, “I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” That doesn’t mean we’ll find intelligent life, so we don’t have to worry that things are about to get all ID4.

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But, finding even small living organisms anywhere that isn’t Earth would strongly suggest that it’s likely we’re not the only intelligent life in the universe. Stofan added, “We know where to look. We know how to look,” Stofan added. “In most cases we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it. And so I think we’re definitely on the road.” She didn’t get too technical on where the 30-year timeline came from at the panel, but NASA does have a rather lengthy list of places they’re planning to look:

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Click to massively, massively enlarge.

And the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or “NExSS” program, will be an interdisciplinary effort that “connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life,” says NASA’s Director of Planetary Science, Jim Green. “The hunt for exoplanets is not only a priority for astronomers, it’s of keen interest to planetary and climate scientists as well.”

With multiple teams advancing our understanding of alien worlds along with the progress NASA is currently making in finding a ton of exoplanets and exploring possible sources of life within our own solar system, Stofan’s claims start to sound pretty realistic—if that alien life is out there at all.

That’s the one guarantee Stofan can’t make, but that worst case scenario aside, we’re pretty excited by the goal she’s set. Do your thing, scientists.

(via io9)

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