NASA is “well on its way” to finding alien life, its top boss has said.
The agency’s Mars missions are not far off tracking down signs of life on Mars, and may even bring some back to Earth, according to administrator Jim Bridenstine.
AFP or licensors Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine
The 43-year-old made the comments after Nasa abandoned its Opportunity rover on the surface of the red planet last week.
As scientists said goodbye to the rover after 15 years of exploration, Bridenstine assured fellow space boffins that future Mars missions will continue Nasa’s hunt for ET.
Scientists plan to fly samples of Martian soil to Earth and hunt for “biosignatures” – traces of chemicals that hint at the presence of life.
“We’re going to be able to look at samples and determine if there’s a biosignature in there,” Bridenstine said.
Nasa Nasa’s top boss reckons Mars is our best bet in the search for aliens
“The goal is to discover life on another world; that’s what we’re trying to achieve.
“And because of so many great people in this room, friends, we are well on our way to doing that.”
Opportunity was fundamental to the breakthrough discovery that water once flowed on Mars.
It confirmed what scientists had speculated for decades: That our neighbour may have once harboured alien life.
Bridenstine noted that Mars is our best bet in the search for ET.
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As well as water, Nasa missions have found complex organic molecules on the planet – another key element needed for life to form.
While scientists haven’t found evidence of aliens on Mars yet, these factors mean Bridenstine is confident of a discovery in the near future.
“All of these things collude to say there is a lot we need to learn, and friends, we’re going to do it quickly,” he said.
The agency is preparing to send a life-hunting probe to the red planet in 2020.
The £1.5billion Mars 2020 rover is equipped with 23 cameras that will zoom in on clues the size of a grain of salt.
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Nasa’s ill-fated Opportunity rover was pronounced dead last week after an enormous Martian dust storm knocked it for six.
The agency previously admitted that “tiny super-intelligent” aliens may have already visited Earth.
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