Is NASA ready to find life beyond Earth?
Taken from SpaceNews.
WASHINGTON — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is performing well enough on orbit to give NASA confidence that the mission can last until August, an agency official said June 9.
Agreed. But we could take it one step further and ask, “Is NASA ready to find life beyond Earth?” The quest to find and investigate life beyond the Earth has reached a tipping point. We stand on the brink of changing the perspective of humanity’s place in the universe and finally answering the question “Are we alone?”
The quest to find life beyond Earth is compelling. However, the capabilities to achieve the quest are distributed across the NASA organization, primarily in the Science Mission Directorate. They compete against other priorities for resources and urgency. This is a quest for all humanity. For NASA to succeed requires a new approach.
Why now? This current quest began in the mid-1990s. Swiss scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz discovered the first planet orbiting another star in 1995, work recognized with the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics. In 1996, the claim of a fossilized bacteria in a Mars meteorite sample created new momentum in the NASA planetary program. These discoveries set off a chain of missions and research that today is paying off handsomely.