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NASA's new telescopes could spot alien life within 20 years

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
July 16, 2014
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Convinced that there's got to be life on other planets? You're not alone in the universe -- in fact, many NASA scientists agree with you. And a panel convened recently by the space agency (see the video below) believes that finding it could happen soon, too -- perhaps "in twenty years" -- thanks to incoming telescope technology. Recent projects, like the Kepler Telescope, Dark Energy Survey and the Very Large Telescope have detected the presence of planets and even their atmospheres. But astronomers are even more excited about future projects like the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite (TESS) and James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Those devices are purpose-built to find planets, and future projects will search for water and gases like carbon dioxide. Astronaut Charles Bolden spoke for the group when he said "it's highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone." Of course, there are dissenting opinions, not to throw cold water on your alien abduction fantasies. Many think that the evolution of intelligent life on Earth defied dramatically long odds, and may have occurred rarely (if at all) elsewhere.

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