NASA to launch super telescope to search for extraterrestrial life, could do so before 2050

NASA to launch super telescope to search for extraterrestrial life, could do so before 2050
NASA to launch super telescope to search for extraterrestrial life, could do so before 2050

NASA is preparing to build a revolutionary telescope, known as the Habitable Worlds Observatory (HWO)which aims to identify potentially habitable planets in our galaxy. This ambitious project, planned for 2040, has generated great expectations in the scientific community, as there is a promise that it could discover signs of extraterrestrial life, if it exists, by 2050.

The HWO is considered a “Super Hubble“as it will have the ability to obtain direct images of Earth-sized planets orbiting other stars. Equipped with a mirror similar to that of the James Webb telescope and ultra-precise optics, the HWO will be able to analyse the atmospheres of these exoplanets in search of signs of life. This mission will not only focus on the search for biosignatures, but also on the detection of “technosignals”, indicators of advanced civilizations.

Your observations will be very important. Variable star V 372 Orionis. Photo: NASA.

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NASA: This telescope will be very useful for studying space

The team behind HWO, comprised of NASA astronomers, physicists and engineers, met in New Orleans to discuss the tools needed for the mission. Dr. Courtney Dressing, a Berkeley astronomer and co-leader of the Science Architecture Review Team (START), stressed the importance of equipping HWO with the ability to detect a wide variety of biosignatures. These include biogenic gases, aerosols, surface biosignatures and technosignatures.

Scientists have identified 25 Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars as possible candidates for the search for life. Jessie Christiansen, an astrophysicist and chief scientist at NASA’s Exoplanetary Science Institute at CalTech, is optimistic about the capabilities of HWO. According to Christiansen, the telescope could find a signal in the atmosphere of a rocky planet in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star in a very short time.

NASA: It won’t be an easy task

Despite the optimism, the project faces a major challenge: money. Military contractors Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace (BAE Systems) will begin work on optical sensor systems HWO ultrastable this summer. The initial investment of $17.5 million for the development of this technology is only a fraction of the $11 billion expected to be spent on the entire project.

It will follow in the footsteps of Hubble. Photo: NASA.

The HWO will follow in the footsteps of the Hubble Space Telescopelaunched in 1990, which has been fundamental to our understanding of the universe. Hubble has made more than 1.5 million observations and contributed to the publication of approximately 18,000 scientific papers.

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