NASA has invested billions of federal funds in search of intelligent life in space. However, scientists argue that this is not enough. If the space agency wants to really make a mark in its efforts to finally succeed in this, it needs to build and launch a new and much bigger telescope into space. Such a telescope would be able to easily capture images of other planets outside our solar system.
The only challenge with this is that we don’t have that kind of technology at the moment. It could probably take years to build it but then again, the scientists strongly feel that it’s the only chance we have at finding another planet that can support biological organisms. The recent recommendations are part of a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The academies were authorized by Congress a few months ago to create the best possible strategy for exploring exoplanets.
After gathering a wide range of inputs from different experts, the academies came up with 7 key recommendations. The idea of building a bigger telescope was at the top of this list. NASA has tried in the past to build a giant telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope was one of the massive projects undertaken by the space agency but it turned out to be more difficult than earlier thought. The telescope was supposed to cost $1 billion. The plan was to have it ready for operations by 2007 but this didn’t happen. In June this year, NASA finally conceded that even though it’s still possible to create such a technology, it would probably cost nearly $10 billion. The space agency also said that the technology wouldn’t be ready until 2021.
But this is not the only challenge. The new telescope proposed by the scientists would need additional technologies that haven’t been tested yet in a space environment. This means that any attempt to build anything close to this proposed telescope will be way more expensive compared to what NASA proposes to do with the James Webb Space Telescope.
However, the authors of the new report made it clear that they weren’t considering financial constraints in their proposal. They said that their role was to determine the best way to explore the worlds outside Earth’s solar planet. They simply provided recommendations on how to do it regardless of the costs.
Scott Gaudi, a professor of Astronomy at the Ohio State University and one of the authors in the report, told a leading news outlet online that the idea of the telescope was simply a consensus among the exoplanet community on what needs to be done in order to meet the scientific goals of space exploration. Gaudi adds that the first goal is to understand how planets form but most importantly, there’s a need to determine whether there’s another planet out there with any signs of biological life. Although these targets appear simple, they are really far from it.