Astrobiology: Looking at Life’s Connection to Space
With thousands of exoplanets discovered, the age-old question “Are we alone?” looms larger than ever. Dr. Alissa Bans speaks about battle-hardened survivor species on Earth, called “extremophiles,” and then surveys environments in our solar system and beyond for the possibility that life extends beyond Our Pale Blue Dot.
We then hear more as Laura Kreidberg tells us the fascinating story of the Kepler mission, a recent satellite that has discovered thousands of worlds (exoplanets) beyond the 8 planets of our own solar system. In the process, she tells us how we can use telescopes (and a variety of techniques) to detect these distant worlds. Kepler has discovered a stunning diversity of structures/configurations of planetary systems, which Kreidberg explains. She then pivots to tell us how the next exciting NASA space telescope (the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor) could discover signatures of life on Earth-like planets.