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Can we envisage life outside the solar system? The question may soon be answered

The question has been fantasizing for decades and decades, but we could soon get an answer. Experts from the European Space Agency want to determine whether or not there is life outside the solar system. At a press conference, Sasha Quanz, a researcher in Zurich, said he expected to solve this equation within 25 years. And if that may seem ambitious, he judges that it is not idealistic.

Quanz and his teams first want to observe the planets that are located near a star, an essential condition for them to be habitable. Experts would therefore take pictures of these exoplanets to narrow their research and compare them to Earth. They will help each other to make use of the giant European telescope, which should be put into service between 2024 and 2027.

However, this new tool will certainly be limited, because it could encounter interference from the Earth’s atmosphere, since it is on the ground, and this distorts the data concerning distant planets. This would then not be “the first tool to detect signs of probable life on a planet outside the solar system”.

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And unfortunately, scientists will not be able to rely on the James-Webb Space Telescope for this mission, despite the fact that it has already made incredible discoveries. According to Quanz, it would not be powerful enough to observe planets as small as Earth, nor even to orbit near their stars at distances where liquid water would be likely to pass. to find.

This ambitious mission has in any case already a name “LIFE”, “Large Interferometer For Exoplanets”, and it is currently in its initial study phase. It will still be necessary to wait for an official approval and funding before realizing this crazy project.