WASHINGTON – NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that extraterrestrial life might exist on another planet since there is “water throughout our entire solar system.”
NASA scientist Silvano P. Colombano recently said that alien life might have already visited earth. PJM asked Bridenstine if he agreed with Colombano’s statements.
“I don’t think extraterrestrial life has ever visited this planet, let’s start there. But here’s what I do know: I do know that since I’ve been the NASA administrator for eight months, a number of discoveries have been made. Number one, there are complex organic compounds on the surface of Mars – that’s an amazing discovery because of the Mars Curiosity rover that is currently there. It doesn’t guarantee that there’s life on Mars but it increases the probability – the building blocks of life are, in fact, there,” Bridenstine said during an interview at the National Cathedral prior to the recent Spirit of Apollo event held to celebrate the Apollo 8 mission.
“We now know that the methane cycles on Mars are perfectly commensurate with the seasons of Mars. Again, it doesn’t guarantee there’s life but it increases the probability and you take it a step further. We now know that 10 kilometers below the surface of Mars there’s liquid water – that’s a huge breakthrough. Liquid water, and the reason it’s important that it’s 10 kilometers under the surface is because it is protected, the water, is protected from the harsh radiation environment of deep space. In other words, the Martian Radiation Experiment,” he added.
Bridenstine told PJM that NASA sends signals into space “all the time” and somebody might be capturing them. Bridenstine said the SETI program is trying to find out if there are signals being sent by extraterrestrials to Earth.
“Think of radars out there that can listen for signals from deep space. And SETI stands for ‘search for extraterrestrial intelligence,’ and there are universities involved in this [program], private companies, nonprofits, and they are trying to find out if there are signals out there. We, as humanity, we send signals into space all the time and somebody out there may capture them, you know. Who knows? It’s science fiction for now but maybe, and the question is, is there another civilization somewhere?” he said.
“So, NASA is discovering new planets around stars all the time, to the point now where we now know there are more planets than there are stars, which is another stunning discovery just in the last 5 or 10 years. So the question is, are we alone in the universe? And, certainly, we should find out and that’s what SETI tries to do. So are they making strides in trying to determine if any of those signals are coming here? I honestly don’t know, but I think it’s exciting,” he added.
Citing Jupiter’s moon Europa, Bridenstine explained that NASA is “following the water” to make more discoveries.
“So, all of these things collude to say maybe we don’t know if there’s life out there, but it increases the probability. And what NASA is doing is we’re following the water. Where is there water? And, of course, there’s a moon of Jupiter called Europa; it’s an ocean moon. We’re talking about a moon the size of our moon and it’s pure water. It has an ice shell, which protects the inside from the harsh radiation environment from Jupiter and inside is liquid water,” he said.
“And, in fact, we’re seeing geysers come out of Europa, same with Enceladus, which is a moon of Saturn. We know there’s water throughout our entire solar system and what we understand of life, that doesn’t guarantee there’s life but it raises the probability and what we need to do as an agency, as NASA, is find out if there’s life out there in our solar system and that’s what we intend to do,” he added.
Bridenstine concluded, “I know there’s life on Earth and I know the ingredients for life either exist or have existed on Mars, so it doesn’t guarantee that there’s life on another world but there’s a chance and we should find out.”
Russia has announced plans to build a Moon colony by 2040. Bridenstine told PJM that “we’re going to cooperate with them on that.”
“Think about what we’re doing right now on the International Space Station. Again, Russians and Americans have been working side by side on the International Space Station for 18 years without a break – that’s an amazing achievement and we can do more,” he said.
“And it’s not just Russians, it’s all of the European Space Agency, it’s Japan, it’s Canada, we’ve had 103 different countries do experiments on the International Space Station. So the architecture that we want to build between here and the Moon, including the surface of the Moon, is indeed international. We can all do far more together than any one country could do alone and that’s really key here,” he added.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, recently said that Russia plans to “verify” the U.S. Moon landing. Bridenstine said he took the comment as a joke.
“We are partners, Russia and the United States, on the International Space Station as we speak and that partnership goes back to 1970 with the Apollo Soyuz Mission,” he said. “[Rogozin] is a funny guy and he has a wonderful personality. It was a joke but I think some people took it out of context, but everybody knows we were on the Moon.”