Alien hunters, get excited, because NASA has called a mysteriously vague press conference on Thursday, 13 April which is intended to “discuss new results about ocean worlds.” The press briefing is expected to reveal new ocean-world discovery that, according to NASA, will “inform the search for life beyond Earth.”
The conference is expected take place at 14:00 ET (19:00 GMT) on Thursday, and will reveal new findings from the long-running Cassini spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope.
The press conference is going to held at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA headquarters in Washington and will be attended by experts across the country including several members of the Cassini team.
NASA’s Cassini mission is one of the most ambitious space explorations ever attempted by the agency. The Cassini–Huygens spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997, with the eventual aim of landing on Saturn. The mission has now almost reached its end. The spacecraft has begun it’s “death spiral” as of April and will will take its final plunge on September 15th, 2017, just after it beams its last of images.
So what exactly can we expect from the new announcement? Well, a spokesperson for NASA has stated: “These new discoveries will help inform future ocean world exploration – including NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission planned for launch in the 2020s – and the broader search for life beyond Earth.”
The Clipper mission’s aim is to launch an orbiter and a lander into space in order to study Jupiter’s most famous moon, Europa. Europa is widely considered to be the most viable candidate for a planet which can host favourable condition for living organisms.
Of course, this isn’t the first exciting announcement NASA have made about the possibility of finding life outside the confines of our own planet. At a press conference earlier this year, NASA announced the discoveries of 1,284 new planets, nine of which were in the “habitable zone” – the zone in which it would be possible for life to exist.
Back in August 2016, scientists announced the discovery of a planet that looked seriously likely to harbour life. Proxima b is a relatively nearby planet which has the perfect set of conditions to breed life. It’s so close, in fact, that we could probably visit it in our lifetime.
Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, said at the time: “One of the great questions of all time is whether we are alone in the universe. We live in a time when humanity can answer this question scientifically. And the first sign of answering this question is looking at exoplanets.”
So get your tinfoil hats at the ready, because it looks like all you UFO hunters out there might finally have some solid extraterrestrial evidence. A question and answer session will take place during the event, and members of the public also can ask questions during the briefing using #AskNASA.
Just don’t blame me if NASA’s announcement causes you to stay up all night looking through your telescope in the vain hope you’ll spot a green creature or two up there in the ether. I know I will be.