At a chat in mid-November hosted by Pioneer Works in Crimson Hook, Brooklyn, astrophysicists Rebecca Oppenheimer and Natalie Batalha speculated on the probabilities that life exists on exoplanets someplace in our galaxy. Most probably, Oppenheimer mentioned, life is ubiquitous within the universe, however it won’t take the shape that we think about. Of the 1000’s of exoplanets already detected, our telescopic skills restrict the extent of element we will make out, even within the nearest planetary techniques. House is simply actually massive, and different stars and their planets are distant. As senior editor for area and physics Lee Billings writes on this challenge, the near-term massive aim of astronomy on this nation is to plot the next-generation telescope—primarily an upgraded, supersize model of the Hubble Telescope. Prone to be accomplished within the 2040s, the brand new endeavor would scout for liveable planets within the galaxy and for alien life (see “Hunt for Alien Life Tops Subsequent- Gen Want Listing for U.S. Astronomy”).

Once we look into the night time sky, Batalha mentioned, we aren’t taking a look at particular person stars, however as a substitute every speck of sunshine is a planetary system and due to this fact a candidate for housing life. Astronomers certainly should devise grand plans to make progress whereas trying off-Earth. To that finish, one other telescope—with a price ticket of $10 billion—is ready to launch this December, as author Nikk Ogasa reviews (see “The Nail-Biting Journey of NASA’s James Webb House Telescope Is about to Start”). Sure, area is actually massive, however we’ve got the ambition to see throughout the miles.