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Finding ET: NASA Discuss First Contact with Aliens in the Style of 'Star Trek'

Sep 15, 2016 07:40 AM EDT
Star Trek: Mission New York - Day 3
NASA claims the search for extraterrestrial life is possible and would be in the style of the popular sci-fi film, "Star Trek."
(Photo : Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

NASA is bent on finding extra-terrestrial life. In fact, a number of scientists from the space agency claim that they have already found planets that hold alien life. Will close contact become a near possibility? Well, the agency believes so, as stated in their "Star Trek: Mission New York" panel.

During the panel "First Contact: Looking for Life in the Universe," audience members were given a peek into the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). Surprisingly, "Star Trek" was mentioned more than once due to the fact that the sci-fi films had popularized contact with alien life.

The panel was led by SETI Chief Scientist at the University of California, Dan Werthimer, along with Bobak Ferdowski of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They covered the discussion while going through the basics of astrobiology.

So did the panellists really talk about extra-terrestrial life? While actual evidence of alien life was not presented during the convention, they did discuss the potential of finding alien life in Europa, which is the icy moon of Europa. The planet had evidence of water, and as scientists have long stated, water creates a conducive environment for life to thrive and evolve.

"Europa [may be] completely covered in water. That's great for primitive life, but if you want technology, you've got to have some land surfaces as well, but it won't necessarily evolve into something more complex than single-celled life ... What are the pressures that make you want to go from 'I can feed' to standing and talking?" explained Werthimer.

Aside from discussing the potential planet that could hold alien life, the panellists discussed the appearance of alien life - would they resemble humans in a genetic level?

"Did it have a different biogenesis?" Ferdowski asked. "If it's exactly the same as us, that probably doesn't mean there were two independent origins of life."

Aside from encounters with aliens on "Star Trek" that inspired NASA, the space agency's journey to Mars has also been motivated by the sci-fi flick. The space agency is also working on technology that is close to what is shown on the films.

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