Friday, December 06, 2013

Congress Holds Session On The Search For Extra­terrestrial Life | VIDEO

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Congress Holds Session On The Search For Extra­terrestrial Life

House panel ponders extraterrestrial life

By Joel Achenbach
www.washingtonpost.com
12-4-13

     Lawmakers held a free-ranging and sometimes bewilderment-inducing hearing Wednesday on the search for extra­terrestrial life, gradually working around to the question of whether humans are alone in the universe. At the end of the 90-minute session, that issue remained unresolved.

Called “Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond,” the House Science Committee’s hearing featured three PhD-credentialed witnesses who are prominent in a scientific field that once was considered speculative. Although the efforts of the world’s scientists have yet to yield even one confirmed example of extraterrestrial life, astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets outside the solar system, and many believe that the galaxy is aswarm with potentially habitable worlds.

The experts at the hearing — NASA astrobiologist Mary Voytek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology planetary scientist Sara Seager and science historian Steven J. Dick — advocated funding for the field, including investment in space telescopes that would be designed to detect chemical signatures of life in the atmospheres of distant, extrasolar planets. . . .


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