NASA Wants to Make Big Changes in ‘Quest’ for Aliens

by Courtney Blackann
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A group of NASA scientists are looking to provide ways to document life on other planets with some new framework. Led by Jim Green, NASA’s chief scientist, the criteria for tracking life is set to be over seven steps. This should help provide context to the new discoveries, experts say.

These steps will be “reflective of the winding, complicated staircase of steps that would lead to scientists declaring they’ve found life beyond Earth,” according to an article written by Green, per Fox News.

Though the idea is in its early stages, the technology used with this model will help to monitor alien life in a concrete way.

“Having a scale like this will help us understand where we are in terms of the search for life in particular locations, and in terms of the capabilities of missions and technologies that help us in that quest,” Green said in a statement. 

NASA Gearing Up to Test New Model

“Are we alone in the universe? To understand how one discovery builds on the next, @NASAAstrobio is asking for help to put together a scale that would lead to scientists being confident in saying they found life beyond Earth,” the space organization announced on Twitter.

Further, each level tracks something different. Offering new insight and providing a system for tacking life should be extremely beneficial. In the first level, hints of life would be reported. At this level, scientists would verify that this is an accurate reading and not marred by instruments or other technologies.

Scientists would additionally analyze the data to make sure the information could support by the environment and biological information.

“With each measurement, we learn more about both biological and nonbiological planetary processes,” Mary Voytek, the head of NASA’s astrobiology program, said. “The search for life beyond Earth requires broad participation from the scientific community and many kinds of observations and experiments. Together, we can be stronger in our efforts to look for hints that we are not alone.”  

Additionally, the organization also said that there’s more to learning about life on other planets. This means analyzing more than just differing between it exists or it doesn’t.

“Until now, we have set the public up to think there are only two options: it’s life or it’s not life,” Voytek said. “We need a better way to share the excitement of our discoveries, and demonstrate how each discovery builds on the next, so that we can bring the public and other scientists along on the journey.” 

While the changes are still in review, NASA believes this is a positive step towards unmasking alien life. If other lifeforms exist in the universe, this new way of documenting should be extremely relevant and helpful, experts say.