Breakthrough Listen: The search for life beyond Earth

Written by Staff Writer The search for extraterrestrial life is set to be this year’s biggest scientific endeavor. Starting from April 5, members of the public will be able to find out more about…

Breakthrough Listen: The search for life beyond Earth

Written by Staff Writer

The search for extraterrestrial life is set to be this year’s biggest scientific endeavor.

Starting from April 5, members of the public will be able to find out more about the next great frontier of astronomy and space exploration — the hunt for extraterrestrial life.

The world’s premier symposium for cosmic science and cosmology, called Breakthrough Listen, is set to be one of the biggest scientific pursuits of the year.

In addition to revealing the major technological advancements that will make Breakthrough Listen possible, the event is expected to gain greater public awareness about space exploration and learning about life beyond Earth.

One of the key questions facing the organization is whether extraterrestrial life forms exist beyond Earth. Scientists are currently deciphering data from a cosmic body discovered in 2014: the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which tracks the motion of distant celestial bodies.

Scientists around the world are excited for the next TESS data, which will be made available in the spring.

“The new study results are quite promising,” said astrophysicist Jon Grobman, head of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ TESS Astrobiology Laboratory.

“But it will still be several months before we have complete information from TESS because some of the data will be withheld until our next spacecraft, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) meets its launch requirements. We are so pleased by this space telescope and all the investment by our nation.”

Following the TESS orbiter, NASA plans to launch an even more powerful telescope in the 2020s.

Currently, NASA scientists are closely monitoring the planet Scorpius/Scutum — found by TESS — and watching for signs of alien life.

Similar to TESS, the new telescope’s object of interest will not be an actual planet, but something like the microscopic star Psyche, which orbits its parent star.

To learn more about the bright star, gravitational analysis of Psyche should reveal details about where it evolved from, how it evolves, and where other planets exist.

But meeting the requirements for TESS’s launch dates has been the center of a long, slow debate. NASA initially ordered this $337 million satellite to be fired up in October, but currently it’s expected to launch in May 2019.

A final deadline of July 2020 was set after the date was late, and NASA is currently hopeful a late July launch date can be found.

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