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Indian origin scientist tells why aliens can’t contact us

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Sydney: If the search for an alien life has not yielded any conclusive results in the last 50 years, it is probably because life on other planets was brief and has gone extinct soon after its origin owing to runaway heating or cooling on their planets, say astrobiologists led by an Indian origin scientist.

“The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” said Aditya Chopra from Australian National University (ANU).

“Early life is fragile so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive,” he added in a paper published in the journal Astrobiology.

“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable,” Dr Chopra added.

About four billion years ago the Earth, Venus and Mars may have all been habitable. However, a billion years or so after formation, Venus turned into a hothouse and Mars froze into an icebox.

“Early microbial life on Venus and Mars, if there was any, failed to stabilise the rapidly changing environment,” said co-author associate professor Charley Lineweaver.

“Life on Earth probably played a leading role in stabilising the planet’s climate,” he noted.

According to Dr Chopra, their theory has solved a puzzle.

“The mystery of why we haven’t yet found signs of aliens may have less to do with the likelihood of the origin of life or intelligence and have more to do with the rarity of the rapid emergence of biological regulation of feedback cycles on planetary surfaces,” he explained.

Wet and rocky planets, with the ingredients and energy sources required for life seem to, be ubiquitous. However, as physicist Enrico Fermi pointed out in 1950, no signs of surviving extra-terrestrial life have been found.

A solution to Fermi’s paradox, say the researchers, is near universal early extinction which they have named the “Gaian Bottleneck”.

“One intriguing prediction of the ‘Gaian Bottleneck’ model is that the vast majority of fossils in the universe will be from extinct microbial life, not from multicellular species such as dinosaurs or humanoids that take billions of years to evolve,” Lineweaver pointed out.(IANS)(image-wired.com)

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Parker Solar Probe Working As Planned: NASA Mission Controllers

Further instrument check-outs and deployments are scheduled in the coming days for the spacecraft.

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Several other designs on the spacecraft keep Parker Solar Probe sheltered from the heat. Flickr

NASA ‘s historic mission to solve the mysteries of the Sun which was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on August 12 is operating according to plan, mission controllers have said.

As of 12 p.m. EDT on August 16, the Parker Solar Probe was 4.6 million kms from Earth, travelling at 62,764 kms per hour, and heading toward its first Venus flyby scheduled for October 3, 2018, Geoff Brown of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, or APL, in Maryland, wrote in a NASA blog post on Friday.

The spacecraft will use Venus to slightly slow itself and adjust its trajectory for an optimal path toward the first perihelion of the Sun on November 5 this year.

“Parker Solar Probe is operating as designed, and we are progressing through our commissioning activities,” said Project Manager Andy Driesman of APL.

This solar probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth.

The mission has already achieved several planned milestones toward full commissioning and operations, according to the mission controllers.

NASA-Parker-Solar-Probe
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe in Space. (IANS)

On August 13, the high-gain antenna, which Parker Solar Probe uses to communicate high-rate science data to Earth, was released from locks which held it stable during launch.

Controllers have also been monitoring the spacecraft as it autonomously uses its thrusters to remove (or “dump”) momentum, which is part of the flight operations of the spacecraft.

Managing momentum helps the spacecraft remain in a stable and optimal flight profile.

There are four instrument suites on board Parker Solar Probe, which will each need to be powered and readied for science data collection.

The FIELDS investigation, which consists of the most elements, went first. It was powered up on August 13 for two activities, Brown said.

First was the opening of the clamps which held four of the five FIELDS antennas stowed during takeoff.

These antennas will be deployed roughly 30 days after launch, and they will stick out from the corners of the spacecraft’s heat shield called the Thermal Protection System and be exposed to the harsh solar environment.

Parker solar probe
The spacecraft, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. IANS

Second, the spacecraft’s magnetometer boom was fully deployed. This boom contains three magnetometers and a fifth, smaller electric field antenna, all part of the FIELDS suite.

Also Read: India will Send a Manned Flight into Space by 2020: Modi

Further instrument check-outs and deployments are scheduled in the coming days for the spacecraft, Brown said. (IANS)