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The European Space Agency has got the go-ahead to go looking for alien life and they will do so under the PLATO mission. The mission is going to involve looking for exoplanets that are habitable and the mission has received the green light and is now making the move from just blueprint to actual construction.
European Space Agency Gets Go-Ahead For Alien Hunting
Cosmic Vision Programme Set For 2026
The mission was chosen in 2014 as one part of the Cosmic Vision Programme of the European Space Agency. However, the launch date, which was set for 2024 was then pushed to two years later in 2026.
The whole aim of the PLATO mission is to detect planets that are a similar size to Earth or super-Earths which orbit stars in zones that are habitable. This is any region that has similar to the conditions of Earth in that it must have an atmosphere and be able to support water.
Astrophysicist Professor Don Polacco, from the University of Warwick in the UK, is going to be heading the project and recently he held an interview in which he said that the launch of the mission would allow them the chance to contribute to the biggest discoveries of the coming decade and give answers to fundamental questions about our existence. He went on to say that the mission may eventually lead to finding extra-terrestrial life.
34 Wide-Field Telescopes Will be Launched
In 2026 34 wide-field telescopes are going to be launched and the cameras onboard will be able to use photometry. This is a method that is popular, of being able to detect planets just by analyzing the starlight of that planet. The researchers said that if the brightness of the starlight falls periodically then there is a reason to believe that it has been caused by the planet crossing the star and this partially blocks out the light. This is going to be enough to give researchers a way of being able to estimate the planet`s size along with being able to compare it to the radius of Earth.
Researchers on the mission hope that they are going to be able to use this technique to identify planets that may be habitable. With the mission receiving a green light to go-ahead, the leaders in the industry are going to be getting a chance to put in bids for the building of components for the space telescopes along with the software they will run on them.
NASA Is Also Looking For Other Planets With Alien Life
The European Space Agency is not the only ones who are on the lookout for alien life on other planets. NASA has their own mission that goes under the name of Kepler. Scientists have only just finished looking through exoplanets that may be candidates and they have found 219 exoplanets that may be capable of life, with ten being in the habitable zone and being about the same size as Earth.
The total amount of exoplanets that have been found to date in more than 4,000, however, at this time it is not known if any of the planets do have the conditions that are needed to support life.