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ALIENS could be discovered within 25 years when more powerful telescopes are built

A government scientist said we could find outside our solar system in 25 years, but current technology like the James Webb Space Telescope isn’t powerful enough to find evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Sasha Quanz, an astrophysicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich, made the comments at the recent opening of the new Center for the Origin and Prevalence of University Life.

Although scientists know of 5,000 exoplanets and billions more yet to be discovered within our Milky Way galaxy, we don’t know much about the atmospheres of these distant places.

‘In 1995, my colleague’ [and Noble Prize laureate] Didier Queloz has discovered the first planet outside our solar system,” Quanz said during the briefing space.com.

The 25-year time frame he set himself for finding life beyond the solar system is ambitious, but not “unrealistic,” Quanz said.

A government scientist said we could find extraterrestrial life outside our solar system in 25 years, but current technology like the James Webb Space Telescope isn't powerful enough to find evidence of extraterrestrial life

A government scientist said we could find extraterrestrial life outside our solar system in 25 years, but current technology like the James Webb Space Telescope isn’t powerful enough to find evidence of extraterrestrial life

Billions of exoplanets have yet to be discovered by scientists.  Each of the more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy has at least one planet orbiting it

Billions of exoplanets have yet to be discovered by scientists.  Each of the more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy has at least one planet orbiting it

Billions of exoplanets have yet to be discovered by scientists. Each of the more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy has at least one planet orbiting it

Built not specifically to view exoplanets but to see the universe’s oldest stars, the James Webb telescope recently released its first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star – the massive gas giant HIP 65426 b , a planet 12 times the size of Jupiter.

However, Quanz explained that while it’s the most powerful observatory ever in space, Webb isn’t powerful enough to capture the much smaller, Earth-like planets orbiting close enough to their stars for liquid water to exist.

‘[The HIP 65426] system is a very special system,” said Quanz. ‘It is a gas giant planet orbiting very far from the star.

“Here’s what Webb can do when it comes to taking pictures of planets. We won’t be able to get to the minor planets. Webb isn’t powerful enough for that.’

Quanz and his team are leading the development of the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph (METIS), a unique, first of its kind instrument that will be part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT)

Quanz and his team are leading the development of the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph (METIS), a unique, first of its kind instrument that will be part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT)

Quanz and his team are leading the development of the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph (METIS), a unique, first of its kind instrument that will be part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT)

1663188085 796 ALIENS could be discovered within 25 years when more powerful

1663188085 796 ALIENS could be discovered within 25 years when more powerful

“What we don’t know is whether these terrestrial planets have atmospheres and what these atmospheres are made of,” Quanz said, adding that many of these exoplanets could be capable of supporting life, just like Earth.

There is reason for hope, however, as new instruments are already being built with the sole purpose of filling this gap in James Webb’s capabilities.

Quanz and his team are leading the development of the mid-infrared ELT imager and spectrograph (METIS), a unique instrument that will be the first of its kind to be part of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

The ground-based instrument is being built by the European Southern Observatory in Chile, ELT, and when completed by the end of this decade, it will include a 130-foot-wide mirror — making it the largest optical telescope in the world.

“The primary goal of the instrument is to capture the first image of a terrestrial planet, possibly similar to Earth, around one of the closest stars,” the astrophysicist said. “But our long-term vision is to do that not just for a few stars, but for dozens of stars, and to study the atmospheres of dozens of terrestrial exoplanets.”

“What we don’t know is whether these terrestrial planets have atmospheres and what these atmospheres are made of,” Quanz said, adding that many of these exoplanets could be capable of supporting life, just like Earth.

“We need to investigate the atmospheres of these planets. We need an observational approach that will allow us to take pictures of these planets.”

“We need to understand more about the plausible building blocks of life, the pathways and timescales of chemical reactions and the external conditions to help us prioritize target stars and target planets,” he added.

“We need to find out to what extent the traces of life are real bio-indicators, because maybe there are other processes that could lead to the formation of the gases in these atmospheres.”

Quanz explained that Webb (above), although the most powerful observatory ever placed in space, isn't strong enough to capture the much smaller, Earth-like planets orbiting close enough to their stars that liquid water could exist.

Quanz explained that Webb (above), although the most powerful observatory ever placed in space, isn't strong enough to capture the much smaller, Earth-like planets orbiting close enough to their stars that liquid water could exist.

Quanz explained that Webb (above), although the most powerful observatory ever placed in space, isn’t strong enough to capture the much smaller, Earth-like planets orbiting close enough to their stars that liquid water could exist.

The James Webb Telescope recently released its first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star - the massive gas giant HIP 65426 b, a planet 12 times the size of Jupiter.

The James Webb Telescope recently released its first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star - the massive gas giant HIP 65426 b, a planet 12 times the size of Jupiter.

The James Webb Telescope recently released its first direct image of an exoplanet orbiting a distant star – the massive gas giant HIP 65426 b, a planet 12 times the size of Jupiter.