Scientists have been plagued by the question- ‘are we alone in the universe’- for years. Astronomers, scientists and all other professions have joined hands to search for the existence of other life forms in our universe. In light of recent discoveries, scientists discovered that life could have flourished on Mars.
In the field of astrophysics, there have been various discoveries made. The quest for discovery of other life forms began in 1990s when the discovery of new worlds around other stars was made. Extrasolar planet or Exoplanet is the term used for the planets that do not orbit around the Sun. These hold the possibility of presence of life.
The strong electromagnetic forces acting upon them hold asteroids and rocks together but the planet is a celestial body that is bound by self-gravity. Unlike the stars, the planet cannot produce enough energy through the process of nuclear fusion.
More than 1500 exoplanets have been identified. With Kepler’s space telescope, more discoveries have been made possible. Kepler’s spacecraft detects the changes in the brightness of stars that occurs whenever a planet moves in front of the star. On an average, one planet orbits every star in the Universe. We have more than 100 billion planets in our Milky Way galaxy and there are more than 100 billion galaxies present in the Universe. This is turn gives rise to the idea of having varied forms of life present on exoplanets.
CONDITIONS NECESSARY FOR LIFE
Owing to extreme diverse weather conditions, Jupiter and Mercury cannot host life. Liquid water and accurate surface temperature is needed for hosting the life. But this cannot be considered to be concrete since different forms of life can thrive on different types of temperature. Liquid water is the only pre-requisite that emerges as a common necessity for generation of life.
Statistically, it has been found that 1 in every 5 planets around the stars similar to Sun can potentially support existence of life. This means that in our Galaxy alone, there can be more than 20 billion habitable planets.
LIFE ON MARS
Curiosity, the rover sent on Mars, has uncovered some shocking data that hints at the possibility of life on Mars. Curiosity has completed its fifth anniversary on Mars. It has been collecting information and sending it back to Earth for analysis. Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California instructs the rover to perform a variety of tasks every day including the capture of images, drilling the surface of Mars and analyzing the data found. In lieu of recent findings, it has been found that Mars could once have had the habitable environment needed or existence of life on the planet.