Alien life will be discovered within the next 25 years, according to a top space boffin.
Dr Sascha Quanz said tech advances mean the ambitious 25-year timeframe he has set himself for finding life beyond our solar system is not “unrealistic”.
The astrophysicist said: “There’s no guarantee for success. But we’re going to learn other things on the way.”
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He said the new James Webb Space Telescope was already providing extraordinary images of gas giant planets outside our solar system.
But Dr Quanz’s team at Switzerland’s ETH Zurich institute are working on an instrument for a new telescope that will be able to focus on smaller, earth-like planets.
He added: “The primary goal of the instrument is to take the first picture of a terrestrial planet, potentially similar to Earth, around one of the very nearest stars.
But our long-term vision is to do that not only for a few stars but for dozens and to investigate the atmospheres of dozens of terrestrial exoplanets.”
He hailed the release a fortnight ago of the first direct image of an exoplanet by the Webb Telescope.
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The gas giant exoplanet HIP 65426 was a “very special system”, he said, adding: “This is what Webb can do in terms of taking pictures of planets.
But he said it could not “get to the small planets”, saying: “Webb is not powerful enough to do that.”
Dr Quanz’s claims follow former Nasa chief scientist Jim Green’s prediction we will have a close encounter within the “next handful of years”.
Some are convinced that our first encounter with extraterrestrials has already taken place.
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Black Grape star Shaun Ryder is convinced that aliens are not only visiting us regularly today, but that they have been visiting throughout history. And he told the Daily Star that he thinks we may even have been genetically engineered by these visitors from beyond the stars.
Shaun has seen more than his fair share of strange lights in the sky, and while he acknowledges that he has a reputation as one of the music world’s most incorrigible caners, he insists that he was stone cold sober when he saw that first UFO, and he’d never tried anything more mind-altering than some “weak hash” when he had his first life-changing close encounter.
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