By Mike Wall, October 23, 2019
NASA’s newest planet hunter is joining the hunt for intelligent aliens.
Scientists working on the space agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission will collaborate with the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), members of both teams announced today (Oct. 23).
“It’s exciting that the world’s most powerful SETI search, with our partner facilities across the globe, will be collaborating with the TESS team and our most capable planet-hunting machine,” Pete Worden, executive director of Breakthrough Initiatives, a program that includes the Breakthrough Listen project, said in a statement.
“We’re looking forward to working together as we try to answer one of the most profound questions about our place in the universe: Are we alone?” Worden added.
“We are very enthusiastic about joining the Breakthrough Listen SETI search,” TESS Deputy Science Director Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in the same statement. “Out of all the exoplanet endeavors, only SETI holds the promise for identifying signs of intelligent life.”
Image caption: Artist’s illustration of HD 21749c, the first Earth-size planet found by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanets Survey Satellite, as well as its sibling, HD 21749b, a warm sub-Neptune-sized world. In a new study, a research team led by Björn Benneke, a professor at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal, discovered water vapor and likely even raining clouds in the atmosphere of the exoplanet K2-18 b.