What could be better than NASA’s WISE and James Webb Telescope projects in hunting for and detecting exoplanets and, by extension, searching for extraterrestrial? How about a collaborative effort of telescope systems, universities, research institutes, and NASA to search for and develop methodologies for searching for exoplanets and alien life forms? That, in its essence, is what the NexSS (Nexus for Exoplanet System Science) Initiative will do…
The Science Times reported April 23 that NASA’s next big project with regard to exoplanet exploration will be to provide a platform where scientists can collaborate and do research on planetary dynamics, habitability, interplanetary interactions among world’s within extrasolar star systems — all to better enable the search for extraterrestrial life. The NexSS Initiative will be a virtual platform for 10 different universities, three NASA centers and two research institutes to all work together with the ultimate goal of better understanding and developing new and more effective ways to search for extraterrestrials.
Writes The Science Times: “The geoscientists of NExSS will work to develop a systems approach by first studying our own planet, Earth; planetary scientists will study a wide variety of planets in the Solar System and their moons; heliophysicists will examine in detail how the Sun interacts with the planets in orbit; astrophysicists will provide data on the exoplanets and their host stars for the application of the systems science framework.”
Not only will various disciplines be collaborating, not to mention classifying and organizing data about extrasolar planets and systems, they will use several data collection assets that are not yet in operation. Dr. Paul Hertz of NASA Headquarters in Washington noted: “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 the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and the Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).”
The collaborative effort convened by NASA is a positive step in the exploration of the cosmos and will undoubtedly be a boon for astrobiological studies. Besides, NASA has a promise to keep — or at least a prediction to be proven correct. Last year, the space agency predicted that life outside the confines of Earth would be discovered within the next two decades. The NexSS Initiative will assuredly be of great help with the discovery of alien life, if, of course, there is any extraterrestrial life entities to be found.