NASA officials just announced the official launch of a multidisciplinary approach to the quest for alien life. NExSS or The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science will unite experts in the fields of astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics and planetary science in order to gain a fuller comprehension of alien life that might be born of and develop near distant stars in the 2020s and beyond.
Jim Green, director of NASA‘s Planetary Science Division, said in a statement: “This interdisciplinary endeavor connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life. The hunt for exoplanets is not only a priority for astronomers, it’s of keen interest to planetary and climate scientists as well.”
The three co-leaders of NExSS will be Natalie Batalha of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, Anthony del Genio of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, New York and Dawn Gelino of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.
Batalha is presently the mission scientist for NASA’s planet-seeking Kepler spacecraft, which since being launched back in March 2009 has found over 1,000 alien heavenly bodies and over 3,000 “candidate planets,” most of which NASA plans to officially confirm.
The NExSS research cooperative includes investigative teams from across the US. Currently There are over a dozen individual institutes and universities involved including Pennsylvania State University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Santa Cruz; the California Institute of Technology, Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Maryland, the University of Nebraska-Kearney, the University of Wyoming and Hampton University in Virginia.
Also included are NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, and the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the Goddard Institute of Space Studies and the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.
Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, concluded: “NExSS scientists will not only apply a systems science approach to existing exoplanet data, their work will provide a foundation for interpreting observations of exoplanets from future exoplanet missions such as (2017’s) TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) and WFIRST (the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope).”
NASA Launches Quest For Alien Life