NASA Scientist Predicts We’ll Meet E.T. by 2019

Posted by Michael Pinto on Apr 27, 2009 in Science |

Phoenix Mars Mission: Photograph from July 14, 2008

The good news is that Peter Smith who led NASA’s Phoenix Mars Mission predicts that within ten years we’ll find life on other planets — but the bad news for us fanboys with hopes of hanging out with Vulcans and Klingons is that E.T. may be a clump of lowly microbes sitting underneath a rock on Mars. Smith made this prediction during his recent “Journey of the Phoenix” presentation at the University of Delaware which included images from the Phoenix which touched down on the Martian arctic last year.

Although the Phoenix discovered no life, according to Smith the Martian arctic is similar to the Dry Valleys of Antarctica where tiny organisms can survive. And while the Phoenix Mars Mission didn’t find alien life forms confirmed the presence of frozen water just below the planet’s surface. In addition to that water the probe identified nutrients in the soil that could sustain microbes. Smith said “We’re ardently searching for evidence of life on our closest planet, I think it’s coming, I really do — at some point, we’ll turn over a rock, and by gosh there it is.”

Illustration of the Mars lander by Corby Waste.

The Phoenix came to an end on November 2nd last year when after several months Mars started to get cloudy and snowy causing the solar power for the spacecraft to dwindle and thus the Phoenix Mars lander entered the “Sleeping Beauty” mode. However Smith is optimistic, and said that the next mission to Mars will include a large rover the size of a MINI-Cooper, with big tires, which would last at least five years and travel to places of high interest, such as the edge of a canyon.

Smith also predicted that it’s only a matter of time until humans travel to the red planet. According to Smith this may happen within this century or a thousand years from now — but it is inevitable. In this video from October from last year Smith makes the case for further exploration:

Below Peter Smith at his April 16 University of Delaware lecture “Journey of the Phoenix” (Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson/University of Delaware):

Peter Smith, principal investigator of NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission, predicts that we'll find life outside Earth within 10 years. Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson/University of Delaware.

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