UW to play key role in new NASA coalition search to find extraterrestrial life

NASA – The University of Washington and 10 other universities will now join the new coalition of NASA with the NExSS in its effort to search extraterrestrial life forms on distant planets. Virtual Planetary Laboratory, an Astrobiology Institute of NASA was added to the University of Washington in 2001.

The aim of this venture was to bring an interdisciplinary approach towards the study of the planets and the search for extraterrestrial life outside earth’s solar system.

Inspired by its success with the UW lab, NASA is now planning to follow the same team approach and team up with 10 other universities along with two research institutions. These newly added members will support NASA and NExSS coalition in exploring life forms on the planets surrounding the different stars.

NExSS and NASA is planning to understand the various matter particles and components present on the exoplanets. These planets are not a part of our solar system. The search will also try to find out how the host stars and the neighboring planets interact or depend upon each other for life support.

Newly Formed Teams to Study Together

According to Victoria Meadows, astronomy Professor at UW and principal investigator for the VPL, planets have complicated systems and hence their environments can get affected due to the interaction with their sibling planets or parent stars. The coalition along with the newly joined universities and research institutes will study together exoplanets, Earth, sun, planets in and outside our solar system.

Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science, NASA has said that the interdisciplinary effort between the different research teams and institutes is sure to provide a harmonized approach towards the search of extraterrestrial life on exoplanets. According to him, apart from the astronomers, search for exoplanets also is of great importance to the climate and planetary scientists.

The coalition includes joint efforts by scientists from different fields, including planetary scientists, heliophysicists, astrophysicists, and earth scientists.