NASA confirms 768 new exoplanets making extraterrestrial life more likely

Credit: NASA, JPL
Credit: NASA, JPL

NASA astronomers yesterday released a paper announcing the discovery of an additional 768 exoplanets using a new validation technique for data from the Kepler Space Telescope. This has nearly doubled the number of confirmed exoplanets from the previous tally of 941 to 1710. Most dramatically, the number of earth sized exoplanets increased by a factor of five, now making it clear that rocky earths are pretty common throughout the galaxy. Importantly, four of the exoplanets were confirmed to rotate in the habitable zones of their suns – zones where liquid water can exist and extraterrestrial life can flourish. The rapid increase in exoplanet discoveries has come from analysis of only two years of data supplied by the Kepler Mission. Analysis of an additional two years of available data is expected to increase the number of confirmed exoplanets even more dramatically than the latest NASA release. The new confirmation method used by NASA astronomers means that the likelihood of eventually finding exoplanets with extraterrestrial life becomes far greater than previously thought.

NASA astronomers adopted a two-step process for detecting exoplanets using data gained by the Kepler Space Telescope and 11 other currently operating space telescopes. A new generation of space telescopes along with Earth based telescopes promise to provide even more data about exoplanets and their atmospheres. The world’s largest optical telescope is scheduled to begin construction this year on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano at the Big Island of Hawaii – an hour’s drive from where this article is being written. The new 30 meter telescope is designed to examine exoplanets and their atmospheres for tell tale signs of life. The detection of large amounts of oxygen, for example, would be confirmation for the existence of extraterrestrial life.

When an exoplanet is first detected as it either passes in front of (the transit method) or near enough to its sun to cause detectable wobble (the Doppler effect), it becomes a “candidate” until further data confirms its existence. Currently, there are more than 2500 exoplanet candidates. The length of time need to confirm exoplanets depends on the period of an exoplanet’s rotation around its parent star. As the exoplanet makes its second or subsequent passage in front of or near its sun, astronomers gain the additional data to learn whether or not a candidate exoplanet has been confirmed. So far, only two years of a four year data pool from the Kepler Space Telescope has been analyzed. As more data becomes available, additional exoplanet candidates are likely to be confirmed.

Out of the 768 exoplanets just confirmed, 106 are less than 1.25 times Earth’s diameter. Previously, the data from Kepler and other telescopes had only confirmed 20 earth sized worlds. The four newly confirmed exoplanets orbiting in the habitable zones of their suns were roughly twice the diameter of Earth. This almost doubled the total of exoplanets confirmed in habitable zones from five to nine. What the NASA astronomers didn’t consider, however, was a new way of defining what constitutes a habitable zone for extraterrestrial life.

In January this year, Scientists at the University of Aberdeen and University of St Andrews, Scotland, released a paper titled “Circumstellar habitable zones for deep terrestrial biospheres,” in the journal, Planetary and Space Science. In the paper they redefined the “Goldilocks Zone”, the optimal zone for life to exist on planets. They have found that life can flourish beneath a planet’s surface where liquid water can be found at varying depths. This is how the abstract described this new way of locating extraterrestrial life:

We introduce a new term, subsurface-habitability zone (SSHZ) to denote the range of distances from a star within which rocky planets are habitable at any depth below their surfaces up to a stipulated maximum, and show how SSHZs can be estimated from a model relating temperature, depth and orbital distance. We present results for Earth-like, Mars-like and selected extrasolar terrestrial planets, and conclude that SSHZs are several times wider and include many more planets than conventional surface-based habitable zones.

Using computer simulations, the scientists found that if one goes to a depth of 5km below the surface, then the habitable zone in space increases by a factor of three. If one goes to 10km below the surface, then the habitable zone extends by a factor of 14 which would extend the habitable zone beyond Saturn. Thus several of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, could have life thriving in habitats kilometers beneath their surfaces.

Using the idea of subsurface-habitability zone, many more than only four of the 768 newly confirmed exoplanets could be suitable hosts for extraterrestrial life. As astronomers continue to develop new techniques for confirming the existence of exoplanets, a new understanding for what constitutes a habitable zone is needed. Liquid water can exist either on or beneath the surface of an exoplanet, thereby making it possible for extraterrestrial life to flourish on many more exoplanets than previously thought possible.

In previous announcements of the Kepler Mission data, astronomers confidently predicted that it was only a matter of time before an exoplanet in the habitable zone of its sun would be found to host extraterrestrial life. New techniques for confirming exoplanets and new ways of defining a habitability zone make it even more inevitable that extraterrestrial life will eventually be detected on exoplanets using advanced space telescopes.

© Copyright 2013. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D.

This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists. Permission is granted to include an extract (e.g., introductory paragraph) of this article on website or email lists with a link to the original.

Did a UFO dock with International Space Station for alien astronaut meeting?

Credit: UFO Sightings Daily
Credit: UFO Sightings Daily

On January 29, 2014 the live camera feed of the International Space Station (ISS) showed what appeared to be a strange yellow elliptical object docked with the hull of the ISS. The live camera feed was quickly recorded and uploaded to Youtube, and is generating much interest as possible evidence of a UFO interacting with the ISS. This has led to claims that the UFO was docked so that extraterrestrials could meet with NASA astronauts. The idea that alien ships could dock with the ISS and have meetings with its occupants is supported by the claims of a former NASA employee who during his 34 year service worked on numerous NASA missions and finally as a Space Craft Operator. He claims to have witnessed a similar alien rendezvous during a U.S. Space Shuttle mission just before his security clearance was revoked by NASA in 1992.

The Youtube video “What is this please NASA?” was uploaded by a user Streetcap1 who has a reliable track record of posting authentic videos recorded from NASA and other national space programs. According to Scott Waring from UFO Sightings Daily: “This was caught by Streetcap1 of Youtube and yes its 100% real. I have followed this guy and his research for two years and he has never tried deceive anyone.”

Waring goes on to describe the UFO and his belief that the video is evidence of an alien meeting with ISS occupants:

Here before us we see a long light yellow UFO parked alongside the ISS hull. There is no intent to hide itself or partly cloak, so we know the aliens and the astronauts on ISS know of this which makes us conclude…aliens and NASA had a meeting. I am sure this is just one of many that they have had, but to actually catch it on video is mind-blowing. This is not a glare…notice how the light changes and the UFO is a solid object near the ISS. It looks small, but it is about 10 meters across or more.

If extraterrestrials did dock their vehicle with the ISS to conduct a meeting with NASA astronauts, it would not be the first time according to the claims of Clark McClelland.

I, Clark C. McClelland, former ScO [Spacecraft Operator], Space Shuttle Fleet, personally observed an 8 to 9 foot tall ET on his 27 inch video monitors while on duty in the Kennedy Space Center, Launch Control Center (LCC). The ET was standing upright in the Space Shuttle Payload Bay having a discussion with TWO tethered US NASA Astronauts! I also observed on my monitors, the spacecraft of the ET as it was in a stabilized, safe orbit to the rear of the Space Shuttle main engine pods. I observed this incident for about one minute and seven seconds. Plenty of time to memorize all that I was observing. IT WAS AN ET and Alien Star Ship!

Furthermore, McClelland wrote that he was not the only NASA official who witnessed the incident:

A friend of mine later contacted me and said that this person had also observed an 8 to 9 foot tall ET INSIDE the SPACE SHUTTLE CREW COMPARTMENT! Yes, inside OUR Shuttle! BOTH missions were DoD (Pentagon) TOP SECRET (TS) encounters!

McClelland’s testimony is significant due to his credentials gained over a 34 year career working for NASA contractors, and eventually NASA itself as a SpaceCraft Operator, before being forced to retire in 1992 due to his UFO beliefs. His website has a number of documents he has released to the public confirming some among the long list of achievements and testimonials arising out of his long NASA career. His claims of directly having witnessed events involving extraterrestrial life and technology while at NASA is first hand witness testimony that would be admissable in a court of law or Congressional Inquiry.

McClelland’s testimony supports claims that NASA space missions have directly interacted with extraterrestrial vehicles and resulted in meetings between astronauts and aliens. The video recording of what appears to be a UFO docked at the ISS on January 29, 2014, may be yet another instance when aliens have met with NASA astronauts during a space mission.

© Copyright 2014. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Exopolitics.org

This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists. Permission is granted to include an extract (e.g., introductory paragraph) of this article on website or email lists with a link to the original.

US Congress discusses extraterrestrial life, but not cover-up

Congress-NASA-ETOn December 4, the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the U.S. Congress held a session discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life and what should be done to find space aliens. Titled: Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond” the session lasted 90 minutes. The meeting was chaired by Lamar Smith of Texas and featured three prominent astrobioligists from NASA, MIT and the Library of Congress. The questions asked by House members were rather general and vague, sometimes descending into the ridiculous. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex) asked the panel: “Do you think there’s life out there and are they studying us — and what do they think of New York City?” Some members of the Democratic Party criticized the meetings as a waste of time. So why did the House hold this meeting at all, and why now?

The answer according to most astrobiologists is that the discovery of exoplanets makes it certain that there are millions, if not billions of earth like planets capable of hosting life in our galaxy alone. A recent statistical paper found that 22% of sun like stars may host habitable planets. Given the high unlikelihood that so much cosmic real estate would be devoid of life that has shown itself to be so robust on Earth, astrobiologists have basically reached a consensus that it is a only a matter of time before alien life is found. This was the observation of Bill Posey, Republican of Florida who said: “You’ve pretty much indicated [the discovery of] life on other planets is inevitable…. It’s just a matter of time and funding.” Posey and other members acknowledged that there needs to be more funding for NASA to build better space telescopes to find exoplanets and support detection programs like SETI to find intelligent alien life out there. Dr Stephen Dick from the Library of Congress challenged the current separation between detecting microbiological and intelligent extraterrestrial life, and called for a renewal of funding for SETI:

In addition to a renewed search with the latest technology, the reinstatement of funding for SETI would allow a systematic examination of these intriguing questions. It would also repair the artificial programmatic divorce between the search for microbial and intelligent life, which, despite engaging different scientific communities, are part of the same research problem. And I believe SETI would be supported by the public, which as always is interested in life beyond Earth, whether microbial or intelligent.

Earlier in May a subcommittee of the House Science Committee heard evidence of the latest astronomical findings concerning exoplanets, and the need to continue funding such research. There are many congressional members sympathetic to NASA and its budgetary needs despite the strict fiscal conservatism of the Republican Party that has led to cut backs in NASA funding. The White House has submitted a budget for NASA of $17.7billion for 2014, which is a slight decrease from 2012. It is not certain that NASA will even get this which is a worry to its supporters.

This latest Congressional meeting comes roughly seven months after a mock congressional hearing involving six former members of Congress. The Citizen Hearings on Disclosure examined evidence of a UFO cover-up and that we are being visited by various extraterrestrial civilizations. The former congressional members did not think it likely that the current Congress would take up any time soon the issue of extraterrestrial life, or at least claims of a cover-up. Yet here we are seven months later and Congress has indeed begun openly discussing extraterrestrial life, though not evidence of a cover-up.

Curiously, current members of the U.S. Congress are open to discussing extraterrestrial life in the context of the latest astronomical data provided by NASA, yet won’t hear from former NASA employees and astronauts about what they know of a cover-up. Apollo 14 astronaut Dr Edgar Mitchell, for example, has been very prominent in speaking out about the cover-up for over a decade. Indeed he testified by live video before the Citizen Disclosure Hearing. Yet don’t expect the House Committee to call upon Dr Mitchell soon to testify. The official stance seems to be that discussion of extraterrestrial life is now fine as long as it’s done in the context of NASA’s discoveries of exoplanets, but don’t discuss the possibility of a cover up by NASA employees and others. That way NASA can get funds for more efforts to find alien life somewhere in deep space, while ridiculing those claiming that NASA has already discovered ET much closer to home.

 © Copyright 2013. Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Exopolitics.org

This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists. Permission is granted to include an extract (e.g., introductory paragraph) of this article on website or email lists with a link to the original.

Copyright © 2019 Exopolitics Institute News Service. All Rights Reserved.