Will NASA telescope be able to track space creatures?
If NASA’s James Webb telescope were launched into space on time in 2021, it would be nothing short of a revolution in space science.
NASA says the telescope “will be able to look into the past and see the first galaxies of the early universe.”
Called the JWST, it will be the successor to the famous Hubble telescope, orbiting the sun at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from the earth and unraveling the mysteries of the vast expanses of the universe.
In addition to the six-and-a-half-meter-diameter gold mirror, the telescope is equipped with the most sensitive cameras, which makes it capable of performing another extraordinary task.
That is, the James Webb telescope will also be able to observe the atmosphere of planets orbiting other stars and detect possible life there.
Despite all these advantages, the project could hardly get the approval of the US government, due to the fact that it would cost ten billion dollars.
University of Washington astronomer Joshua Christensen Totten and his team tried to study how the telescope would detect traces of life in the atmosphere of extraterrestrial planets.
“We will be able to make life-observing observations in the next few years,” he said.
The James Webb telescope is so sensitive that it can detect “chemical imbalances” in the planet’s atmosphere from dozens of light-years away.
This imbalance in the atmosphere is caused by life on the planet. Earth’s atmosphere, for example, should not have oxygen without life, and this oxygen is due to the plants found here.
This means that if there is a large amount of oxygen in the atmosphere of another planet, it could be a sign of life.
Detection of chemical imbalances
But on the other hand, the chemistry of life on another planet may be very different from that of terrestrial creatures and they may receive energy from something other than oxygen.
But James Webb can find out. If there is an ‘imbalance’ in the atmosphere of a planet, it is likely to be the product of life.
The presence of a planet around another star can be detected when the planet orbits its star and the star’s light fades instantly.
The gases in the planet’s atmosphere change the light coming from there. By studying the colors of this light (ie wavelength) the gases found in the atmosphere of the planet can be detected.
Which way to look in the sky?
According to Christensen Totten, if JWST focuses on TRAPPIST-1, a Jupiter-sized star about 40 light-years away, there could be success.
There are seven planets orbiting this star, many of which are in a liquid state. Of particular interest is a planet called TRAPPIST-1e, which appears to be similar to Earth.
The light from there will be very dim and not easy to observe, but Cornell University astronomer Jonathan Lonin says, “With the help of JWST it is possible.”
However, it is also important to know if this imbalance is part of a natural process. For example, large-scale volcanoes on Earth can upset the balance of gases in the atmosphere.
However, according to Christensen Totten, multiple measurements can be used to determine whether the imbalance is natural or created by life, as volcanic imbalances will be temporary.
However, JWST is not the only telescope capable of tracking space creatures.
Two large telescopes are being developed in Hawaii and Chile, while the European Union’s aerial mission to observe the planet’s atmosphere will be sent into space in late 2020.
Between all these plans, there is a race to find out who is the first to track down a space creature.
British scientist Jillian Wright says there was no such device in space before. “JWST has the potential to open new windows in the universe.”