Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Science News: Search for alien life gets boost from Kepler

Back when I worked on magnetotactic bacteria at Iowa State, I remember the frenzy and interest in the "Martian nano-bacteria" in a meteorite found in Antarctica. We still aren't sure about life on Mars, but with the upcoming launch of Kepler, we just might be able to see earth-sized planets orbiting stars far outside our solar system. And with some of the other ground and space based telescopes either already in operation or scheduled for the next few years, we're going to have the potential ability to detect the presence of potential life-marker chemistry (water, oxygen, amines, etc).

This is amazing, mind-blowing stuff. Just a few hundred years ago, we had no clue there was anything beyond our solar system. Even 100 years ago, it was thought that the galaxy was the extent of the universe. Now we're stepping out to the point of looking directly for other planets.

How does the potential of what Kepler might find affect your views of humanity and life on earth? If at some point in the next few years life (or significant indicators of life) are identified outside our solar system, will it affect your personal worldview?

No comments: