Continued search for sustainable life

Humankind is continuously searching for purpose in life, for other life forms outside our solar system. For answers that might be obtained beyond our limitations. So, we explore the vast #Space in order to better understand existence. Robots, satellites, drones, and other researching means are sent out to find proof of life anywhere outside our planet. Technology increased so much, and our searching skills along with it. Telescopes nowadays give us better views of other planets and up until one point, they can be observed.

Professor Sara Seager, MIT astrophysicist, is our ally in searching for worlds that are capable of producing an atmosphere similar to ours.

She has been searching for them since she was only a teenager and right now she believes that we are getting close to discovering those worlds. As technology developed, scientists were able to observe more than 6000 planets, be them giant balls of gas or rocky planets, and their number is increasing every week.

In 1990, the first exoplanets were discovered; some of them by mistake, however there were many debates for deciding whether what they found was real or not. But this didn’t stop Sara Seager. With her determination, she will eventually found it, an Exoplanet capable of sustaining life.

They searched for planets orbiting other stars and found ways to determine if a planet contains an atmosphere, by observing them when they align with their home star. When a planet transits in front of its star, the atmosphere can be observed by the star’s light that shines through it.

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That is how they managed to discover that the “Hot Jupiter," the first exoplanets discovered, contain sodium in their atmosphere. These planets were the easiest to spot because of their sizes, but they cannot be compared to Earth since they do not have a solid surface. This is not a drawback since researchers are able to observe them, and from now on it’s only a matter of technology to discover smaller planets with a rocky surface and a denser atmosphere in which water vapor can be found.

Seager believes that these are the factors she is looking for in an Exoplanet, as life needs water. A planet with water vapors is a sign of a liquid ocean. The planet in question still needs to be in the right orbiting position as it cannot be too close to the sun, which would boil the planet’s oceans, or too far away from it, which would freeze its oceans.

At this moment, out of the 6000 discovered planets, only 30 of them are considered to be similar to Earth, however it hasn’t been confirmed if they are able to maintain life or not. Starting next year, NASA will proceed with a new mission, launching a new telescope called James Webb Space Telescope with enhanced clarity, which will be able to offer direct images of the Exoplanets, thus making them more visible. #Government