A number of incredible discoveries in 2016 have led scientists searching for life on other planets to conclude that they are quietly hopeful that 2017 will be the breakthrough year when human beings will finally come up with conclusive proof of extra-terrestrial life.
Scientists are always very cautious when it comes to proclaiming that they have found life on other planets. This is because there have been so many false alarms in the past which have led to disappointment both among the scientific community and the public.
Dr. Simon Foster, a physicist, based at the prestigious Imperial College in London said; “In the past when we thought we had discovered aliens previously, it was a new form of star called the pulsar. We don’t know hardly anything, and when we come up against something we don’t know or doesn’t fit into out current understanding, it is quite nice to say that it could be aliens, whereas a lot of it is just a phenomena that we haven’t discovered.” But despite all of that, Dr. Foster still believed that there was a reason to be confident that aliens would be discovered in the near future. “Either way there is a breakthrough just around the corner, ” he said.
There are numerous reasons why scientists are becoming more certain that a breakthrough is imminent. Last year, scientists detected highly unusual pulse signals from deep space which they believe are likely to have been caused by an advanced alien civilization. The research is currently being reviewed by bodies such as SETI, but even if this particular theory does not pan out, scientists believe that less sophisticated forms of life may be discovered in this solar system in the coming year.
NASA and other large space agencies across the world are launching several exploratory missions this year that may well reveal that this solar system is home to microbial life forms. According to Dr. Foster, the probe Cassini which is currently orbiting Saturn and its moons is fairly likely to discover bacterial life. “What’s interesting is that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, is an icy moon and that leaves the tantalizing prospect of looking for life, ” he said. He also suggested that another moon, Europa, may well have life in its vast underground ocean.
In addition to this, scientists have recently discovered a new planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, which is only four light years from Earth which they believe could be a very hospitable environment for life. According to Professor Phillip Lubin of the University of California at Santa Barbara, “The discovery of a possible planet around Proxima Centauri is very exciting. It makes the case of visiting nearby stellar systems even more compelling.” Later this year, astronomers will use some of the world’s most powerful telescopes to search the planet for life.