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Alien life will be found ‘within the next few decades’, Nasa study claims

Humanity could be on the verge of answering the biggest question in the universe.

A Nasa-backed study has claimed that alien life could be found on an ‘exoplanet’ outside our own system within a few decades.

Researchers have just published a proposal paper calling for an observatory to be placed on the dark side of the moon.

The proposed FARSIDE instrument (Farside Array for Radio Science Investigations of the Dark ages and Exoplanets) would scan the sky and look for habitable planets capable of sustaining extraterrestrial organisms.

It would also search for Planet 9, a mysterious and as-yet-undiscovered world believed to be lurking in the furthest reaches of the solar system, as well as trying to find dark matter, a substance believed to make up a large proportion of all the matter in the universe.

As well as these impressive ambitions, the overachieving instrument would ‘explore how the universe began and evolved’ and look for ‘coronal mass ejections’ – outbursts from the surface of stars.

But the goal which is likely to get the most attention is the search for exoplanets capable of sustaining life.

Artist’s impression of an exoplanet (Image: PA)

To do this, FARSIDE would scour the sky for evidence of planets which have a magnetic field like our own, which is considered ‘a key ingredient for planetary habitability’, as well as looking for gases and other ‘biosignatures’ indicating the presence of alien organisms.

Authors of the paper include scientists from Nasa as well as academics from various American universities.

They wrote: ‘The discovery of life on a planet outside our solar system is at the heart of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate.

‘Such a discovery may arrive within the next few decades and is the focus of a number of planned and concept Nasa missions.

‘The most likely avenue involves spectral observations of biosignature gases… on an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star.’

Nasa has not committed to building FARSIDE, which would consist of 128 antennae spread across the dark side of the moon – a location which would shield the observatory from radio frequencies produced by Earthbound human civilisation as well as ‘noise’ created by the sun’s solar wind.


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