This is a vision of our future The fateful day in a far-flung corner of the universe when a probe from Earth Initiates the first descent onto an alien world Looking for proof of life beyond our solar system There are no witnesses, no cheering crowds in the control room a Decade or more will pass before news finally reaches us back across the dark oceans of space But the seeds of this mission are already being sold today By the first generation of scientists bold enough to believe it could be possible When I look up in the sky and I see not stars.
I see planetary systems Fidel we must understand that the journey to ISO planet is not limited by the laws of physics They look two planets orbiting distant stars Searching for an answer to the oldest human question.
Are we alone? Is there life on other worlds and if not, why not and if so how? This is the first generation in human history where we have the technological ability text to go and answer that great question This is the story of humanity Launched into the final frontier by a new breed of adventurers the planet hunters engineers explorers and dreamers taking the first steps on an interstellar journey they will not complete that a journey of like years and lifetimes to another earth around another we could not possibly have been forged in the dying throes of stars and Created in that tremendous explosion and now turn our back on Looking for other creatures that were formed the same way I am Artemis autonomous robotic exploration mothership for interstellar space I Am in the final phase of construction in the International cooperative zone of Earth orbit I am born of man and woman and I am both But I am neither I Am the first search for life on a planet outside our solar system I am home There’s been life on earth for the best part of four billion years The marvelous complex biosphere Created shaped and reformed by the ever shifting forces of our planet Since the dawn of science, we’ve sought out life and studied its remarkable diversity on every inch of the globe The technology of the 20th century took our search into space as we scoured our neighboring planets the signs of a second Genesis And came back empty-handed But what about beyond our solar system Could life in all its complexity exist out there on a planet among the stars Get away what would win the development of human thought if one had not been able to see the stars so This is an area that inspires dreams For as long as we’ve had eyes to see and minds to wonder we’ve marveled at the bright lights in the sky But it was only on the eve of the 21st century that a handful of eccentric thinkers Dared to gaze into the gloom between the stars Believing planets like our own world could be found there Michelle Maya was one of them It says it’s all it’s very strange in the first half of the 20th century the Astronomy community The astronomers were convinced that there were few or no planetary systems in the galaxy apart from the solar system When you went to astronomy meetings or conferences you couldn’t tell people which you’re working on If you said you were looking for extrasolar planets They did snicker and they’d move away like you smelled bad or like you were trying to sell some New Age religion You know you might have been looking for a little green men at that point In the 1990s astronomer our Paul Butler was another young radical who gambled his career on the hunt for exoplanets planets orbiting stars other than our Sun I Was working on the problem like 80 or 100 hours a week I I would work on the problem So intensely that I would have dreams About the work and you know, it’s totally all-consuming At the heart of the challenge was one fundamental problem even if there were exoplanets out there Scientists knew they’d be impossible to see directly because the brightness of the star would overwhelm the planet The planets are very small and weak in terms of brightness compared to the star Therefore getting a direct picture of a planet.
Well, that’s the great difficulty One is dazzled by the Stars To overcome this obstacle astronomers developed an ingenious method of hunting exoplanets by stealth To detect planet orbiting a star you have to rely on tricks and one of the trick we have been using is If there is a planet going around the star the star will moved a little bit Tiny motion and that’s the motion you want to detects In 1994 junior planet hunter didier queloz was michelle Maya’s PhD student on the brink of a breakthrough discovery Well in 94, we we started this program that was looking about hundred stars with a brand new equipment I had spent almost four years before building it and designing the software to treat the data we’re serving with the telescope’s to get the speed of the star and Trying to see the tiny change in the speed with time Kind of wobbling.
I would tell us that there is something orbiting that star Growls day under Montaigne in a way alone because Michelle would in sabbatical Practically gave me the key of the house because he was not expecting any detection You can imagine my surprise after just a couple of observations we see that something was a bit strange on that style It took me six months practically to be convinced that I was real and then I send this message to Michel I was in a wire see Michel.
I think I found a planet It may not look like it but this little curve is a planet How my or and colas detected it is a tale of remarkable scientific creativity New subjects we are here in the Dome of the observed terrible lost It is here that the discovery of exoplanets began So decode the planets our bodies that do not emit light by themselves they only reflect the light received from their star and so we will have to find an Indirect method to detect the planet.
We made an ID effect of our detected a planet To understand the simple idea behind this Imagine you’re in the back row of the stadium at the Olympics of watching an extremely muscular athlete with arms outstretched Yaya Imagine the hammer is the planet the athlete it’s down over the chain between them their gravitational bond The star pulls hard on the planet, but it’s not all one way The planet also pulls on the star in fact was every revolution it’s pulling it a little off balance Using a prism like instrument called a spectrograph this wobble effect can be detected by observing changes in the color of the light emitted by the star Shifting towards blue as the star moves closer and red as it moves away Measuring this oscillation allowed koalas and my or to infer the existence of a planet to calculate its mass the distance from its star and the duration of its orbit It’s moving to be here with this instruments which allowed us more than 20 years ago to discover the first exoplanet I think by detecting the first planet you’d break a psychological frontier in Science it’s is very rare.
You cannot change a paradigm and we’ve changed the paradigm on The 6th of October 1995 my or and koalas announced their discovery The first ever exoplanet Bellerophon Although they could not see it directly.
It’s mass suggested.
It was a giant gas planet similar to Jupiter But the distance from its star and the period of its orbit seemed to defy the laws of our solar system People thought well, this is really bizarre.
This must be a total freak because it didn’t look like the solar system It’s a big planet like Jupiter, but it orbits a star in four days Delfy the theory was the formation of giant planets predicted that they would only orbit their star over extremely long periods of time It’s ten years or more and so it seems completely at odds with the theory of time In our own solar system giant gas planets exist only in the colder outer orbits whereas Bellerophon appeared to be tucked in tight against the heat of its star Much closer, even than mercury is to our Sun Because it’s so close to its star it’s really really hard it’s probably something like a word or 2,000 degrees centigrade and there is no solid surface because it’s a gas giant so it’s not or Not a good place for life It’s not a place you’d want to visit Bellerophon was no second earth But its discovery had opened the window on a new vision of the universe where anything is possible The exoplanets Miniver B was chosen as the target of my mission By astronomers who are long since dead They died believing they had found four 14.
7 light-years from Earth a world like ours with liquid water bearing life I hope that I will prove them, right When the first exoplanets were found by the wobble method There was a debate in the Astronomy community some astronomers said this is fantastic a new kind of world Completely unforeseen in terms of our understanding of planet formation But another group of astronomers said hold on a minute We don’t think that these are actually planets In 1999 professor of astronomy David Charbonneau was just a young grad student at Harvard trying to make his mark in the brand new field of planet-hunting What he encountered was a minefield While artists had rushed to bring these new worlds to life skeptics questioned the astronomers interpretation of their data What they said was we were being fooled there was in fact a new kind of stellar pulsation and so as the star expanded and contracted we were looking at one side of that star and so it appeared that the star was coming towards us and away from us the Very signal that would be the telltale motion due to an orbiting planet, but in fact had nothing to do with planet at all What I decided to do was to try to go and resolve this debate First by looking for the light reflected off of one of these worlds We tried very hard for a couple years and unfortunately we did not succeed But then as a second idea what we decided to do was instead of looking for the light bouncing off a planet Wait for the planet to pass in front of its star and look for that transit Charbonneau relocated to Boulder, Colorado To a small shed in a car park where a basic four inch telescope had been set up by fellow researcher Tim Brown But I had never done this kind of project before so as a first attempt I thought what we should do is look at one star where we knew that there was a planet due to the wobble method But which we hadn’t yet looked for to see if in fact the planet passed in front of a star making a transit Where the wobble method allowed one to infer the mass of an orbiting exoplanet Charbonneau was attempting to observe the planets shape as it passed across its star in the manner of a partial eclipse The problem was he knew the odds were stacked against him Of all the planets that are out there orbiting their stars We only get to see a tiny fraction By this transit method the idea is that our line of sight has to be exactly aligned with a planetary orbit So that each time the planet swings around it’ll pass in front of some part of the star Blocking some of the light and that’s the signal we can detect Tipped off that another so-called hot jupiter-like Bellerophon had been detected by the wobble method Charbonneau trained his telescope on star HD 2 0 9 4 5 8 and waited praying for a transit There had been about 10 hot Jupiters discovered at that point So it seemed like if there really were planets if we weren’t being fooled and sooner or later or one of these transits should occur And right when we predicted based on the Wobble data that a transit would occur that’s when we saw this event Shabba knows transit method was a game-changer confirming the pioneering discoveries using the wobble method and silencing the skeptics The discovery of the transits of HD tour nine four five eight was a big deal in the astronomical community For the first time we knew the actual mass of the planet we knew its size and we could calculate the density And We could compare it to the density of planets in the solar system.
So it confirmed that these worlds really were hot Jupiters They were big gassy planets inflated due to their proximity to their stars The new-look universe was populating fast inspiring an eager generation of young scientists to join the hunt Timing is everything When I was in graduate school Mid-1990s looking for a project to work on for my PhD thesis amazingly enough the first reports of planets orbiting sun-like stars were coming around at that time and my thesis advisor suggested that I work on exoplanets MIT professor of astrophysics Sara Seager arrived in the field after the paradigm had already shifted To her the question was no longer simply are there exoplanets out there? It was could there be one like Earth? when I want to think I come here to the great lake and you look out on the water and I just think about how How wonderful life is how fragile life is? It gives me hope that there’s another planet out there where life could really thrive But what makes our world so special what physical characteristics define our planet We’re looking for a planet that has a solid surface predominantly rocky planet, but we’re not expecting another planet to be exactly like Earth When we talk about the planets we want to find it’s one that would be able to host life Even in the most extreme environments like here amidst the glaciers of volcanoes of Iceland The conditions that make organic life possible on earth can be found if you know where to look Life needs water and we think water is almost everywhere in the universe However, we find it mainly on the formulas and that’s not what we need life as we know it and how will recognize it Really needs liquid water and that’s not obvious because it requires the right conditions of temperature and pressure Based on everything we know of life on Earth scientists like Francois fouché, believe that for an Exoplanet to host liquid water like Earth It needs to lie within a certain distance from its star the region called the habitable zone They own We calculate that if we move the earth just a few percent closer to the Sun the climate would go into overdrive Because there would be more solar energy The oceans would be warmer more water vapor more greenhouse effect and very quickly the oceans would totally boil and evaporate On the other hand if we move the earth a few percent away from the signal it will be colder There would be more snow more ice and that snow will reflect the sunlight which makes it colder and colder and that Continues until all the earth gets covered in ice.
We call it a snowball earth The reason earth is suitable for life is not only that it’s covered with liquid water and oceans today But it has been throughout its existence for 4 billion years which allowed life to be born and evolved The first mathematical model of planet habitability produced in 1979 placed extremely narrow limits on the habitable zone But recent advances in geological science have broadened at the horizon Other than being at approximately the right distance from the Sun that the main thing that keeps our Taba table is the carbon cycle Penn State professor of Geoscience Jim caste is a world leader in the study of planet habitability and the vital role played by Carlin On earth carbon in the form of co2 Traps the sun’s heat in our atmosphere without it temperatures would plummet to below what life needs to survive But co2 doesn’t just stay in the atmosphere The trees around us are photosynthesizing and they’re XE Exchanging every co2 molecule in the atmosphere every 10 or 12 years but on long timescales it’s what we call the carbonate silicate cycle where co2 in the combined atmosphere ocean system is exchanging with carbonate rocks Co2 rich sediment washes into the ocean and is drawn into the Earth’s crust at underwater fault lines Where a final? geological mechanism completes the cycle To have a habitable planet like the earth you really need A long-term carbon cycle and that has to be driven by Some process like plate tectonics on the earth that keeps the carbon moving around When our planet enters an ice age this tectonic feedback restores a habitable climate as oceans freeze the uptake side of the carbon cycle slows while volcanic activity continues pumping co2 and heat back into the atmosphere When you put in the feedback you find out that the habitable zone instead of being very narrow it’s actually quite wide and wide enough that there’s a good chance that Planets around other stars at least one or one or more of them could be within the habitable zone Costings research had a momentous impact By expanding the boundaries of the habitable zone the carbon feedback loop vastly improved the odds of finding an earthlike exoplanet Where life might be possible? But the fundamental challenge of identifying an earth-like planet remain There tiny and therefore much harder to detect compared to the gas giants that our instruments had observed so far To see these earth sized world’s a giant leap forward in technology was required I Was a graduate student when the very first planet was discovered In fact I was at the conference where Michelle mayor made that announcement NASA astrophysicist, Natalie batalha graduated with a dream I would say my biggest.
Hope was that we find an earth-sized planet orbiting a star very much like our own Sun In a similar orbit where the conditions for life might be just right Five four three two Engine start one zero and liftoff of the Delta two rocket with Kepler On a search for planets in some way like our own In 2009 scientists launched a formidable new weapon in the hunt for life beyond our solar system The first dedicated planet hunting telescope Kepler At the time it was the world’s largest digital camera using an array of 95 megapixel sensors to detect the infant Tessa mode dimming of starlight pierced by transiting planets So powerful that if turned towards earth it could detect a single porch light turning off More importantly.
It was the first instrument capable of detecting rocky earth sized planets The first two decades of exoplanets was kind of like postage stamp collecting Kepler really changed that Kepler monitored a select region of our galaxy over a four-year period By taking a snapshot every 30 minutes like an epic time-lapse photograph And from that data, we identified over 4,000 periodic transit events that look like viable planets And in fact, we have confirmed through other follow-up observations that over half of them are indeed bonafide planets Kepler delivered not only the first rocky exoplanets, it revealed brand new kinds of rocky planets like Kepler 10b Our first encounter with what scientists would christen lava world These are rocky worlds same kind of density as Earth’s but they’re orbiting so close to their star That the surface temperatures are in excess of that required to melt not just rock but iron So you’ve got an entire hemisphere, you know something the size of the Pacific Ocean even larger that is an ocean But it’s not an ocean of water.
It’s an ocean of molten rock Kepler was the first celestial census Extrapolating the data for the surveyed region it gave astronomers a catalog of the exoplanet population We’ve learned I think three important things First we’ve learned that every star that you see when you look up into the sky at night has at least one planet The other thing that we have learned is that nature makes small planets more efficiently than large planets The third thing we’ve learned Has to do with the fraction of stars that Harbor Earth’s size potentially habitable planets and we can make the bias corrections to determine that number and what we find is that it’s about 22 to 25 percent At least one planet for every star in the sky And as many as a quarter of them earth-sized and orbiting within the habitable zone Kepler revolutionized the way we see the stars Kepler was the pioneer Kepler looked for planets transiting sun-like stars and Kepler looked at a very distant field of stars for four years to try to find a planet like Earth that has a 1 year orbit Inspired by the success of Kepler in 2013 NASA joined forces with MIT Lincoln labs to develop an instrument that could deliver a more detailed survey of nearby earth-like worlds The entire field of exoplanets is funneling towards the search for another earth a rocky world Orbiting a small star preferably in a habitable zone of That star As the project advanced MIT professor Sara Seager was named deputy science director of the transiting exoplanet survey satellite Aka Tess Tess wants to find stars that are closer right in our neighborhood actually the camera has Lens assembly of seven lens elements that were fracks starlight Onto a detector then together they make a giant strip When you think of the sky as a sphere from the bottom of one hemisphere all the way up to the pole? after one year of doing that tests will flip to the next SEM asphere and It will then do the same thing.
And so over two years test.
Aims to study the entire sky By scanning nearby star systems Tess aims to identify 50 earth-sized exoplanet candidates for further investigation But would finding a planet like our earth also mean finding a star like our Sun All we know of the stars we know from afar all we know of Minerva B is this It is a rocky planet 1.
6 times the size of Earth hosted by a red dwarf star It’s orbital period is 39 earth days It lies within the habitable zone It’s atmosphere contains carbon dioxide methane water and ozone It will be full of surprises After the explosion of discoveries a new question emerged Could finding the right star be just as crucial as finding the right planet I think the biggest lie that I was told when I was in school was that the Sun is an average star? The Sun is not an average star the Sun is much bigger much more luminous much more massive than most stars Most stars in the galaxy are about a quarter the size of the Sun record of the mass and they only put out one one thousandth the energy These are small cool stars burning not yellow like our Sun but red They’re classified as m-type stars or M dwarfs, but most people call them red dwarfs One of Kepler’s earth-sized discoveries planet kepler 186f Was found to be orbiting such a star 500 light-years from Earth It’s about the same size of the earth and our observations Tell us that planets the size of Earth are more likely to have a rocky composition So we imagine this planet as being a rocky planet with a surface a solid surface It’s receiving about the right amount of energy for liquid water to pull on the surface But it’s orbiting a star that’s very different than our Sun Because red dwarfs burn less hot than our Sun the habitable zone tends to be much closer in But this closeness could spell disaster for life on the planet The red dwarfs their habitable zones are so close in that the planets have a strong chance of becoming tidally locked and Synchronously rotating where they show the same face to the star all the time just as the moon shows the same face to the earth So that that poses problems for habitability, which may be difficult to overcome When a planet is close to its star the gravitational or tidal force becomes greater And this can have the effect of locking the rotation of the planet Meaning one side is always lit by its star while the other remains shrouded in darkness As well as producing one hot side and one cold By spinning so slowly the planet may fail to generate an electromagnetic shield which like on earth protects the planet from radiation These stars at the same time, you know is supplied they’re very much dimmer than the Sun but they’re more magnetically active They give lots off lots of high-energy radiation that may strip the atmosphere off a planet particularly if it’s not protected by a magnetic field But in 2015 casting and other researchers found reason to hope for life on a tidally locked planet orbiting a red dwarf Using sophisticated climate modeling they proposed that if the planet had the right kind of Atmosphere then heat could be transferred from the light side to the dark like a reverse cycle air conditioning system Planet hunters embraced the discovery if life could thrive on a planet around a red dwarf or M-type star the odds of finding a second earth were vastly improved M-type stars are the most numerous star in the galaxy? 70% of the stars in our galaxy are these m-type stars? So if Life can seed itself and get started on these planets then life is going to be ubiquitous in the galaxy For four months at the beginning of 2016 The SIA telescope in Chile set its sights on the m-type star Proxima Centuri Ahmir 4.
25 light-years from Earth, it’s our nearest stellar neighbor In a machine room deep beneath a telescope light from the star was split by the harps spectrum eater And Instruments, so sensitive it picked up the feeblest of wobbles in the dwarf star caused by a tiny earth-sized planet próxima be The discovery came as a revelation The very closest alien star to earth posts a tidally locked earth-like world and Calculations reveal that Proxima B is orbiting within the habitable zone It’s an amazing triumph to discover a planet around our nearest star Just think about that for thousands of features.
People have been wondering are there any planets around other stars? And there is one around our very nearest star But what about its atmosphere Could this planet sustain life? My last sell of helium-3 propellant is delivered from moon base My preparations are complete On earth the world Astronomical Union is throwing a party for me on the eve of my historic launch And I am honored and I am alone Tomorrow I am gone to me Nova As the exoplanet goldrush gathered pace Planet-hunting prospectors sought ever more refined methods of sifting their discoveries in an effort to give a future Interstellar mission the best possible chance of targeting a world that might actually host life Having identified a rich new vein of distant planets the next crucial piece of the puzzle was yet to fall into place How could a telescope be used to sample the atmosphere? Looking at a planet’s atmosphere far away is the best way we have to find signs of life on another world because the gases that life produces here on earth actually imprint in our atmosphere in a very significant way and So it’s just amazing to think that on another world we can do the same If you were an alien astronomer Studying the planets of the solar system you would see that there’s something very different about the third planet from the Sun You would see that its atmosphere is full of oxygen even though you would know that the oxygen couldn’t possibly be there by geologic processes There would be other gases like methane Which also shouldn’t be present and yet there they are and you would we think as we’re trying to do Ourselves when we look at other stars conclude that life was the only possible explanation In 2000 David sharpener took control of the aging Hubble telescope Charged with a single but daunting objective to make the first-ever observation of an exoplanets atmosphere The transit method of exoplanet detection which Charbonneau had pioneered himself Provided a clue for how to solve the puzzle Planets orbiting closely to their stars Make more frequent transits and the larger the planet the easier it is to detect so Charbonneau turned the Hubble’s gaze towards those Syrus a gas giant the transits every 3.
5 days We had the idea that when the planet passed in front of its star some of the light from the star would pass through the outer parts of the planet and then imprinted upon that light would be the Fingerprints of whatever atoms or molecules were present in the atmosphere Different atoms absorb different light frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum and allow others to pass through producing a signature in color No one had ever discovered an exoplanet atmosphere and So we needed a guess as to what atom or molecule would be Very prominent would be the easiest first thing to see so there were some predictions Charbonneau put his money on sodium the tell-tale yellow glow of street lamps The observations were gathered a few months afterwards and it took more than a year to carefully analyze the data No, one had ever made this detection before so we wanted to be absolutely certain that what we were seeing was robust After painstakingly probing the data Charbonneau announced his discovery The atmosphere around Osiris was indeed rich in sodium However, this was no second earth Named after the Egyptian god of the dead The gas giant Osiris doesn’t even have a solid surface to land on let alone the climate of the life What we crave to do is to study the atmosphere of an earth-like planet Of course earth-like planets are simply much smaller than gas giants.
And so it’s just much more difficult to detect them and to study their atmospheres It’s the hurdle that has thoughted planet hunters from the outset the blinding light of the Stars completely overwhelms the smaller exoplanets The first instrument to solve that problem will hold the key to the exoplanet revolution This telescope will allow us to make a leap forward in several fields of astrophysics Especially in the field of exoplanets indeed.
It will allow us to observe the atmospheres of these exoplanets The James Webb Space Telescope is designed to view the heavens like they have never been seen before making the invisible visible Its vast honeycomb like dish of mirrors converges light into the eye of a state-of-the-art infrared camera that astrophysicist Pierre Olivier lagash spent 20 years developing And an object emits light in a given wavelength according to its temperature For example the Sun emits in the visible range because it’s very hot If we take a human, it’s much cooler and will emit in a different wavelength mid infrared And that’s why with a so-called thermal or infrared camera.
You can see people at night We don’t need lights.
We see the heat emitted by a human in the mid infrared The same is true of exoplanets observe them in the right wavelength and they glow in the dark But for the infrared vision to work it relies on the truly innovative feature of this telescope Inside the camera lies James Webb’s secret weapon a kind of mask called a coronagraph It was that this form of masks is very unique the light of the star arrives where it’s opaque On the other hand if you have a small object next to it like an exoplanet Well, the light will not have exactly the same path and will shine through so After that, we’ll have the light of the exoplanet without the light of the star So thanks to this corona graphic method.
We’ll be able to get a direct image of the exoplanets The mask of the coronagraph intervenes between the overwhelming light of the star like an eclipse Allowing the infrared light of the planet to shine through These Exoplanets have never been seen in this wavelength and yet it’s a very interesting field for measuring the temperature of these objects their luminosity We can also see the composition Certain molecules such as ammonia which is in this wavelength range so the Characterization of atmospheres will be one of the great focuses of this instrument Crucial in the hunt for earth-like worlds James Webb is ideally suited for detecting ozone But why ozone because there’s no ozone without oxygen and no oxygen without life so we think it’s really something that is a trace of life and in the middle infrared our telescopes can precisely detectors this signature of ozone The James Webb promises to be the missing piece in the planet hunters arsenal With its breakthrough ability to view an earthlike exoplanet directly and to study its atmosphere the odds of Identifying a destination for a future landing mission have never been better You know I can probably imagine what that would feel like better than most people can I’ve been sending robotic missions to other planets My whole career 40 years of this but I can’t imagine what it would feel like.
I mean the the the problem of Getting a spacecraft with that kind of capability to another star is so much harder The discoveries of the planet hunters Transformed the way we see the universe and posed to explorers like Steve Squyres lead investigator of the Mars rover missions the next tantalizing question What if we could reach out to a nearby alien star and search for life on a second earth What if we could land on another rocky world with running water and a protective earth-like atmosphere If you can find an earth-like world that has been around for billions of years Enough time to develop advanced biology.
It’s had the right conditions all that time.
There are all kinds of possibilities I Can’t imagine what it wouldn’t feel like it’s gonna be I mean, it’s gonna be a shared moment for all of humanity when it happens Five four three two One I launch No fireworks, no trembling For those of you who are watching this, I thank you for entrusting me with the greatest adventure in human history Wish me luck My mission is simple find life It was only for graduate students and I was in the undergraduate and I nearly got thrown out of the class the first day and got to be I Don’t know three or four weeks into the semester I think I better start thinking about my term paper and there was this place Then at the time called the Mars room and it was a place where the pictures from Mars were stored And I went in and I thought I’ll sit down for 15 or 20 minutes and flip through some pictures and see if I can Come up with an idea for a term paper Like most scientists Principal investigator of the Mars rover missions.
Steve Squyres is a born Explorer a seeker of truth Amidst the great unknown, I mean ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by maps.
I Was fascinated by a you know remote corners of Tibet or the deep ocean Or the other side of the Moon Just the idea that there was a place that we hadn’t seen yet and then me able to go there and see it for the first time that just That just had a huge appeal for me In 1977 images of the Viking mission changed the course of Squires life You know, it’s not like today where pictures come down from Mars and bang.
They’re on the internet an hour.
Later There were only a few dozen people in the world.
Who’d seen these I didn’t understand what I was looking at in the pictures nobody did but then I would see and the pictures these little Valleys that just looked like they had to obtain carved by liquid water And I was in that room for four hours and I walked out of there knowing exactly What I wanted to do with the rest of my life Point I’m beyond Ram In the early 2000s Squires led NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rover missions to Mars Successfully landing the two robot geologists in a bid to uncover the hidden history of water on the Red Planet Amid these groundbreaking triumphs an even greater frontier beckons The discovery of earth-like worlds outside our solar system has transformed the way we see the universe and presents an irresistible challenge Why not reach out even further and search for life on the planet among the stars? The thing that has driven the focus of exploration in this solar system has been the search for other forms of life and So I think the motivation is gonna be the same thing I think the motivation when you go to other star systems is going to be habitable worlds and Possibly worlds with life.
That’s the thing that’s going to Draw you to a specific world But the scaleless challenge is unlike anything humankind has attempted before The closest star that hosts an earth-sized planet Proxima Centauri is 4.
3 light years away over 170,000 times further than Mars The quest to build a spacecraft that can journey to the Stars will test the greatest explorers of our generation and demand of them the ultimate sacrifice to Give all their craft and vision for a dream.
They’ll never realize You’re asking people to Devote their careers their lives to something they will never see to fruition.
Now that has happened That has happened a few times in human history Some of the great cathedrals of Europe took longer than a human lifespan to build People felt guided by a higher power when they did that But it takes something extraordinary to motivate people to do that kind of thing I enter the shadow of Mars So Viking colony winking a final farewell from human time My transceiver dish receives the message moon voyage I fly by the storm of Jupiter Onward to Pluto and Chiron and into the space between stars After three months of acceleration, my speed is 12 miles per second I meet Voyager 1 170 years and 45 billion miles from Earth You to shift course No power to call home I Have now traveled further than any spacecraft performing I Retract my transceiver There will be no more calls And press arms through the silence to me never I Get up each day With joy, you know, why because I know that day.
I’m going to learn something I didn’t know before and that my picture my overall tapestry of who we are who I am what our species is and how we got to be that way will be lifted up NASA’s chief engineer of planetary flight systems Gentry Lee is a pioneer of exploration At the age of 75 he’s dedicated over 50 years of his life to engineering robotic missions to other planets Someone asked me one time if I had to describe the excursions above the threshold of joy in my life Would there be a lot of them are just a few and I said I can give you the two categories right away the birth of my children and I now have eight and With a spacecraft that I had a major role in achieved something successfully.
There’s also been eight of those Lee’s first mission Viking in 1975 Was humanity’s opening shot in our dream of exploring the solar system Designed to achieve what many thought impossible To make the first ever landing on another planet Mars We had lived through five years of people trying it’s not gonna work You don’t have everything under control and we were scared to death that it wouldn’t work And the moment that first strip of picture came down from planet Mars on July the 20th of 1976 there were hundreds of us Immediately spontaneously tears burst from our eyes It was at that moment that we knew the human beings who had always been a category one species Limited to their own earth and this sphere of influence had reached out and become a category two species Ready to explore the entire solar system Over the next five decades Lee oversaw successful missions to Jupiter Pluto and to the comet Tempel 1 With Lee and other pioneers at the helm Humanities exploration of the solar system has been so successful.
We have a permanent office in space the International Space Station But as the new dawn of interstellar exploration lights the horizon Even the old Sea Dogs.
No, it will be the greatest challenge that humankind has ever faced it is hubris on our part to imagine that we can sit today and define all the steps that lead us to this plethora of Technology advances that we need in the future to build an interstellar spacecraft Rather let us do the following thing That spacecraft must communicate.
It must navigate.
It must have propulsion It must have the ability to take data It’s as if Henry the Navigator as the king of Portugal had said I don’t even know yet What kind of ships I need to build or where they need to go.
Let me just start with an idea.
What floats? And So the infinitely complex quest to search for life amongst the Stars is reduced to just four problems Propulsion Navigation communication Intelligence each one of them will demand a revolution I am nine years into my journey 1.
2 light-years from Earth 26% of my acceleration phase completely My speed is 8,000 miles per second My fuel usage 19% see I Jettison my spent fuel cells I am or course for rival ed Minerva in 31 years time His life await me When I was about 10 years old I had one of these department store telescopes learned how to use it Took it out one night and focused it on what I was told was the planet Saturn And When I lined up the viewfinder and held it still and I could see Saturn and its rings At that moment.
I felt a calling and that calling was to learn about how to get there T-minus 10 9 8 7 6 Liz Johnson answered that calling becoming a world leading expert in advanced concepts At NASA Marshall Space Flight Center In 1999 he led pioneering research into interstellar propulsion Nature is kind to us in the regard to what options we’re going to have to get to the stars Nature has said you use smart people.
You can figure this out.
It’s just gonna be really hard It was difficult enough to go to the moon We’re sending probes to the different planets in the solar system, but to take that leap to go to the stars The distance is just so much further and requires so much more energy that it’s just gonna take some time The goal of engineering missions to the Stars confronts explorers with distances they’ve never even contemplated before One light here is five point eight trillion miles Which makes our nearest star over 24 trillion miles away? That’s more than a billion round-the-world flights According to the masters of solar system exploration The greatest challenge is how to propel a spacecraft fast enough to travel light-years within a lifetime In order to get humans to make the enormous effort required to fly that kind of mission You need to have the period of time between when you launch and when you actually get information back Be no longer than a typical human lifespan Humanity has never launched Multi-generational voyages of exploration it simply never been done The distances are just daunting and so They’re gonna have the major major breakthrough closely a propulsion The chemical fuel Rockets like Saturn fire have been the workhorses of solar system exploration They got us to the moon in just three days But to reach a planet orbiting our nearest star within a generation We’d need to travel at a speed that covers the earth to moon distance in just eight seconds That’s 17% the speed of light Chemical rockets are great for getting out of the gravity will You have the the high thrust overcome Earth’s gravity But they’re terribly inefficient and in order to get to the stars in a reasonable amount of time You’re going to need to get up to some pretty high speeds And it’s not just the thrust Its how efficiently you do that? Because if you’re inefficient you have to have a lot more fuel and get to a point Where you can’t carry enough fuel to move your own weight The capability of any propulsion system is governed by the rocket equation a trade-off between thrust efficiency and weight The most powerful chemical rocket in operation Falcon heavy First launched in 2018 weighed over three million pounds at takeoff and 95% of it was fuel It burned through all that fuel in just ten minutes In order to create enough thrust to deliver, its unusual payload beyond Earth’s gravity Wherever Starman is going it is Tesla it isn’t the stars Only one chemical powered spacecraft has ever made the leap beyond our solar system in 2013 36 years after its launch Voyager 1 entered interstellar space at 10.
5 miles per second fast enough to travel New York to LA in under five minutes But at less than 0.
0001 percent the speed of light Still painfully slow if you’re aiming for the stars there well beyond what’s considered to be the physical boundary of the solar system and it’s taken over 30-some years to get there at that speed they’ll take 70,000 years just to get to the nearest star.
No chemical Rockets aren’t going to do it As the push for interstellar exploration gathers pace The workhorses of the old space race are put out to pasture Monuments to a bygone era But if not chemical rockets What will deliver the seemingly impossible thrust and fuel efficiency required? To journey to the stars within a lifetime Three potential propulsion solutions are being explored today Fusion antimatter and plasma Imagine we want to go to Proxima Centauri the closest star to our solar system at 4.
3 light years away and imagine we want to get there in a few decades If we use a conventional rocket, we can show that the amount of fuel we need is greater than the mass of the known universe On the other hand if we use a plasma thruster, we would only need tens or hundreds of kilograms of fuel So then the mission becomes possible Physicist Stefan Mizzou is working at the cutting edge of electric propulsion The whole plasma thruster We start with a fuel in gas form we will Electrify it And these electric particles called ions will be ejected at very very very high speed It’s the ejection of his material that will advance the spacecraft Since the 1970s plasma thrusters have been used in satellites to make positioning adjustments while in orbit Their principal advantage is efficiency Demanding just a tiny fraction of the mass of fuel required by chemical rockets Take the example of Voyager 1 which is currently traveling at 60 1,000 kilometers per hour with a conventional chemical rocket engine you can reach the speed in a few days but consuming 92 tons of fuel a Plasma thruster used today on satellites would take two years to achieve the speed but consuming only a few kilograms of fuel So if you put in a lot more fuel you can use the thruster for a lot longer and ultimately achieve a speed much higher than Voyager 1 or Even reach a fraction of the speed of light Plasma engines offer.
Hope of achieving the speed required to reach the Stars Still holding them back is how long it would take to achieve that speed Dragging the total trip time into thousands of years But in the shimmering upper atmosphere of our own planet Lies the potential for a kind of propulsion until now only dreamt of in the realm of science fiction I am the navigator My mind is full of stars and every planet and Every moon Every celestial body that is known I know also But the dangers my creators did not know of I must discover for myself An asteroid field I turn to face it head-on My titanium shield absorbs the impacts But one stray penetrates my mind Emergency backup command system activates.
I am reborn Gage I journeyed on In 1995 at the CERN particle collider in Switzerland for the first time in human history Scientists succeeded in producing the most efficient source of energy achievable within the laws of physics As any good Star Trek family though right on the enterprise and that’s what powered their warp drive Where’s warp drive a science-fiction drive, but if you if you think about antimatter it’s real Just like normal matter is protons electrons there are anti protons and anti-electron When matter and antimatter come in contact with in each other they annihilate and it essentially is the perfect equal MC squared moment as released as energy and Therefore, it’s the most efficient battery we can ever build the most efficient battery that nature will allow us to have Antimatter is created naturally in space and cosmic rays collide with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere Producing it at the CERN was a phenomenal scientific and engineering breakthrough That required accelerating particles to the speed of light and smashing together The challenge now is how to create enough of it to propel a spacecraft This is where it gets tough if you look at the total amount of antimatter produced globally today, it’s on the order of nano grams you would need on the order of kilograms Perhaps up to a ton of antimatter to drive a starship That’s not something I want to do on the earth Because the amount of energy released if that ton of antimatter met a ton of matter Would be catastrophic and so you’re going to have to build the ability to get to make your antimatter in space Far away from the earth and and use that for your starship construction.
So again, it’s not practical today, but it’s not impossible The stars themselves suggest another possible solution to the propulsion problem The energy released from hydrogen atoms fuse together is what lights the sky across the universe Since the 1950s scientists have been developing fusion reactors to harness it The Sun does it by brute force? Has all that mass Squeezes all that hydrogen together to form helium releases energy and that’s how the Sun shines It’s the holy grail of energy production Tame the power of the Sun and furnish humanity with an infinite supply of energy But to get fusion going on earth.
You need to generate the heat of the Sun Upwards of 180 million degrees Fahrenheit.
Well, we’ve we’ve achieved fusion on the ground.
It’s been done Fusion happens when a hydrogen bomb is detonated which is not what we want In the hydrogen bombs of the mid 20th century The atomic explosion of a radioactive isotope was used to produce the heat required to achieve fusion But that explosion of energy was not contained in a way that it could be harnessed What you want to do is be able to capture the energy source of the Sun in Order to heat your propellant or to use as propellant to get your spacecraft going fast enough to go to the Stars Modern reactors achieve fusion by other means by heating plasma The problem with this approach so far Is that the energy required to reach that heat has been greater than the energy produced by fusion? No reactor on earth yet has even reached breakeven But at Princeton satellite systems a team of engineers is on a mission to solve that problem and To build a fusion reactor that can take us to the stars My brother will tell the story that I’m the only person he knows That’s actually doing what they thought they wanted to do in high school.
I Identified aerospace engineering I think colleges for aerospace engineering I’ve been doing aerospace engineering ever since because it’s really fun and challenging.
This space is cool The exhaust velocity that we have Is only about a hundred kilometers per second when you you can’t get there fast unless you got some meaningful thrust Aerospace engineer Stephanie Thomas this principal investigator in a NASA funded program to build the world’s first direct fusion drive an integrated reactor and propulsion system in one They want to reach a neighboring star in the neighborhood of five light-years distance.
We want to bring 10,000 kilograms of payload That’s 10 metric tons.
And we need to do it with an exhaust velocity that we can actually achieve with an engine Thomas’s first challenge is to achieve a constant flow of plasma to catalyze the reactor We’re getting pulses so a pulsing current through these antennae So every time we’re running a five millisecond pulse we heat the plasma we generate current you see a flash But the reactor would be steady-state so instead of flashing like this it would be bright all the time so that’s the goal Rather than using a heavy and hazardous fuel like uranium the direct fusion drive runs on a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen Deuterium found all over the earth in water The drive unit is compact At just three feet diameter and eleven yards long is small enough to mount on a spacecraft We think that we can build the next generation machine in maybe five years It will take at least another five years to build a prototype that you could launch but definitely 15 years at the outside We think we could have one and put it in space At some point we have to visit the stars We’re never gonna just sit here and be content, you know, even when we’re visiting the planets because we want to know what’s out there Everybody wants to go to the stars someday In the timeline of propulsion technology that someday is getting closer The next challenge in our bid for the stars is navigation I discard my primary engine 15 years out from my destination At 32,000 miles per second.
My acceleration phase is now complete I deploy anterior thrusters and engage reverse propulsion I said deceleration at minus 104 miles per second squared Total ship weight now 46,000 tonnes and decreasing 170 pounds per second of propellant burns I refine my trajectory and set course for Minerva In the realm of space exploration The solar system is our neighborhood Since visiting the moon in 69 we’ve dropped in on almost every body around the Sun In 2015 the New Horizons probe completed the first flyby of our most distant neighbor Pluto He took over nine years to get there, but at every step of the way The unmanned spacecraft was guided remotely from Earth The way we navigate today when we send these probes out even the one that went to Pluto is we have a Combination of data taken by the flying spacecraft and our big computers here on the earth and a processing radio information that comes from a spacecraft when we went by Pluto We were basically so accurate that we were hitting a golf ball into a hole from Los Angeles to London That’s how accurate that was done Sending directions to probes works for solar system exploration But as we set our sights on the Stars, the distances are so enormous a new question emerges How to navigate a journey of Light-years if we were ever to go explore a planet around another star The distance would be so great that the machine would have to essentially operate on its own we call that autonomy We’re taking big steps in that direction with curiosity.
We did a lot Landed on Mars in 2012 Curiosity was the first spacecraft equipped with an autonomous navigation system Given coordinates by Mission Control the rover could image its surroundings and compute a safe path across the Martian landscape But for an interstellar mission there will be no relay instructions all the navigation would have to be onboard all the algorithms the Computations of the orbit the computations of the maneuvers to get to the right place.
What stars to look at is for this year What stars to look at for next year? What we would have to do is extend our minds to imagine all the possibilities that they might run into and we would spend Literally years building this hierarchy of possibilities into this artificial intelligent machine It would have to know at all times how well Holland’s critical systems were doing and how to fix them if they weren’t working, right and how to replace them if they couldn’t be fixed what a challenge I Enter the Minerva star system forty nine point six years since my departure I reopened my transceiver and prepare to send the message home Have arrived With any mission Communication is paramount Most spacecraft do not return Instead they send their data back to earth When great distances in the speed of light Get involved.
It becomes a very very different sort of experience simple words like now take on a kind of a different meaning I Remember when we were landing on Mars from when you hit the top of the Martian atmosphere to when you’re on the surface takes about? six minutes At that time the one what we call the one-way light time how long it takes a signal to travel at the speed of light From Mars to earth was ten minutes.
All systems are go we are currently committed Away from hitting the top of party Mountaineer so we’re sitting there in the control room and we’re watching the radio signal and we’re watching the Spacecraft begins to slow down and curve down in the Martian atmosphere.
It’s just at the top of the atmosphere The reality is out at Mars.
It’s been on the surface for four minutes.
I mean of 193 miles per hour weird and it may be a happy healthy Rover or maybe a smoking hole in the ground, and I don’t know But I’m watching this and I’m not seeing reality at that moment and Magnify that so instead of 10 minutes is 10 years Communication with every craft currently in space is conducted via the giant dishes of the deep space network Each powerful enough to track a signal from Pluto.
They’re stronger than a CB radio All of our deep space communications are run through the deep space network, that’s an array of very large satellite dishes They’re set up at three locations around the world One is in California at Goldstone.
One is in Australia Canberra and one is in Spain at Madrid we need a Very large dish area in order to collect all the energy and be able to communicate all the way out at places like Pluto where our spacecraft are going In 2014 Mathew Abramson was mission manager of a radical new form of communication Installed on the International Space Station designed to overcome the limitation of traditional radio transmission The limitation is primarily that the distance that were sending the transmission over we send out that signal it spreads out over time and over space and so As AI spreads out.
It dilutes the signal power the further out you go the lower and lower your data rate is or gets out to the level of something like your dial-up modems that we used to have many years ago When the New Horizons probes sent back pictures from Pluto via radio transmission The signal was so weak it took 15 months to downlink the images from a 12-hour flyby But with the technology Abramson launched and tested in 2014 That download time could be reduced to just one day By sending data back to earth on beams of light The idea is you take a focused laser beam and send the signal same signal over that beam But it’s much more efficient because you have this focused signal that’s not spreading out as much over time Laser wavelengths are packed much more densely than sound waves.
So They transmit more information per second and with a stronger signal The greater bandwidth allows spacecraft to downlink multiple large packets of data simultaneously and in record time The reason for that is this we go further out into the universe and we go to a place like Mars and Jupiter Currently today, we’re just getting back single images of the science and in the future If you do have a high bandwidth system like an optical system You could get back high-definition video and I think getting high-definition video back would be a game-changer for space exploration I fly by the gas giants exoplanet Miniver.
See I Use its atmosphere to create drag and pull me in towards my target I trace an elliptical trajectory around the Minerva son And emerge to take my first glimpse of my new hog I decoupled from my antenna My Explorer module holds my mind I commence entry landing and descent sequence Enter orbit, so close now I deploy my satellites to map the surface And scalped potential landing sites Is this new world ready to be known The part of this that is thrilling to me is that our best attributes if done correctly Exploration at its finest Have been programmed into an extension of our species it belongs to no single individual it is more than anything else a symbol of Humanity working together to create something whose only purpose is to gather knowledge what a beautiful thought And after a long period of time Finally the moment of truth is coming and More than likely the people that designed it originally are no longer alive Welcome to the ops lab francesca And they have passed on this thrill this passion to their children and perhaps even to their grandchildren Okay, we’re gonna walk around on Mars Francesca Will it be that they found life Will it be that they found a planet where we could someday exist? Whatever it is, it will be a historical milestone unlike any other That Moment when something new is revealed that no one’s ever seen before That’s just glorious.
That’s exploration And it’s gonna happen when we go to other worlds around other stars in a very very very big way we’ll be sitting back on earth and that downlink will come and The video or the pictures or the spectra or whatever it is.
They’re gonna come up on a screen.
Everybody’s jaws are just gonna drop This could be the end I really caPSURE into the unknown If I touch down If I am welcome if I find life This could be the beginning And I am ready to touchdown I Am ready to explore And ready to discover life Four and a half billion years ago in the nursery of the heavens the star was born a giant cloud of dust and gas distended and ballooned Until under the burden of its gravity it collapsed upon itself swirled into a disc and forged a solar system from the dust that Star was our son Of the planets that were formed only one that we know of gave rise to life But could our Sun our solar system our living earth Have produced the only Genesis among the stars My intuition is that the universe is full of life There’s no reason fundamentally it might not look like Earth with vegetation and animals But the question I’m interested is really the start of life And on earth we see for a long time life is just microbial with all the essential features of life were there nothing new was invented when life became trees and animals it was just Morphological that’s just window dressing To me it’s actually not very interesting at all everything interesting with respect to biology was present when there were no trees and no animals and life was just Microscopic the DNA was there.
The amino acids was there all the biochemical machinery that makes life life was there Life is a miracle and an enigma Even to those who spent their own lives trying to crack the code NASA planetary scientist Chris.
McKay is one of them Part of a generation of scientists on a quest to find a second genesis beyond earth The search for life began with a lot of optimism focused on Mars Here was a planet that could have had a thick atmosphere Could have had water in the recent past and in the popular literature at least still had water so the search for life on Mars really was Fought to be easy in 1976 NASA’s Viking mission made the first ever landing on the Martian surface Looking for the life that had been hoped for well Turned out a lot harder nature was guarding her secrets much more closely than we imagined So then things basically went quiet in the search for life, and I think they were sparked again.
Not on Mars But in the outer solar system Three two one Liftoff of the Cassini spacecraft on a Trek to Saturn In the final decades of the 20th century humanity launched a series of ambitious missions To explore the outer solar system standing by for solid rocket boosters all systems go at this time The discovery of liquid water on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and The misty plumes of Enceladus and the subterranean oceans of Europa and Ganymede has Opened a thrilling new chapter in the search for a second Genesis The impact of identifying a separate origin of life on one of these worlds Would extend far beyond our solar system? Finding life that’s distinctly different that truly represents the second genesis of life Well, that would tell us that the answer is not one It’s two in terms of life in the universe and going from one to two is huge Because on the scale of the universe the only numbers that make sense are 0 1 and infinity And what we learn in our solar system will then guide how we search for life beyond The renewed optimism in the search for life within our solar system emerged alongside a discovery that Transformed the way we see the universe In the early 2000s nasa’s kepler telescope reveal that every star in the galaxy just like our Sun is orbited by at least one planet And up to a quarter of these so-called exoplanets are believed to be suitable for life In the Milky Way alone That means roughly 400 billion solar systems and 80 billion potentially habitable worlds The odds of finding a second Genesis have never been better The way I like to think of this is that life will arise anywhere where the conditions are Right and the trick in that is what constitutes the right conditions? Planetary scientist Jonathan, Lennon is another veteran in the hunt of a life beyond Earth But what exactly is life and how does one search for it The basic essentials for life to begin and to exist are liquid water Organic molecules because carbon is really the essential Versatile element that can combine with other elements in many different ways to make the structures of life free energy and Minerals and nitrogen to provide the other elements that are required to keep the chemistry going to generate Catalysts that generate more catalysts and more structures until we get to the complexity of a primitive cell Liquid water carbon molecules energy minerals And the secret formula that animates it all into a living cell These ingredients this recipe for life Is what our scientists are hunting for or other worlds I Deploy my spider BOTS on to the main event surface I’ve 3d print a fleet of drones and I let them fly With these eyes and these instruments I would taste and touch This new world for the first time Will I find all that is hopeful Exoplanets of a new frontier in the search for life beyond Earth but the prospect of exploring distant worlds presents an expanding universe of rivers to cross and mountains to climb How on earth can we prepare to explore planets we know so little about Exoplanets presents a real challenge because there’s so much uncertainty So knowing whether or not you’re going to find a cliff face versus a desert versus an ocean versus an ice tundra We may not know when we launched So you’ve got to design your system to survive and operate in all of those possible conditions At NASA’s robotics headquarters in Pasadena, California Around 100 young engineers are busy reinventing the wheels of the Rovers evolved With planetary exploration we started with a large robot That was very stable very safe.
And now we’re beginning to take more risk.
We’re trying to get to new places Trying to shrink down the size of the platform do more with less It’s a pretty perfect ledge over there.
Yeah, sort of thing other Rovers can’t fit into Some of our robots are designed to climb up different surfaces So we have a claw inspired robot that uses sharp hooks to grab on to the Rough surface kind of like an insect or a rock climber would scale up a cliff We also use electrostatics to stick to surfaces So this is like rubbing the balloon on your head and it sticks to the wall One of the key innovations in the new breed of Robotics is biomimicry using biological systems processes as the model for design To look for life behave like life We have created a material that has mechanical properties similar to that You see in biological tissues we have already with this system developed swimming robots There is a lot of work today in robots that can go between dry surfaces and water like surfaces Wherever we find water on earth we find life.
So we have a strategy that we’ve used on Mars called follow the water I think we’re going to use that same strategy when we visit an exoplanet I follow the Louvre you of a retreating glacier My hygrometers detect increasing humidity I am on the scent of fresh water Tracing its inevitable course It’s branching channels over wide floodplains Consuming rock and mineral Now growing brackish perhaps estuary Fresh water and sediments meeting the insistent flow of an incoming tide There is a river ocean system or may never be An ideal breeding ground for life This is a place where there’s life but stout life is we’re familiar with Here life is painted living and saturated soft.
It’s not the kind of green things.
We normally think of his life The salt palms of San Francisco Bay are naturally occurring wetland reshaped by human industry and colonized by trillions of colored micro organisms These are type of hail philic archaea, it’s a particularly unusual type of microorganism It’s extrema file it requires high salt and it lives in an environment where only it can survive so it Dominates so where it grows it grows well and and it’s the king What these salty bugs have in common with everything from oak trees to humans is access to liquid water All life on Earth in some sense is fragile, it’s all tied to the availability in the chemistry of water We tend to think while life on earth has expanded to all the corners of the earth and it is really it’s everywhere That’s because water is everywhere in this planet.
This is a water planet When we look beyond the earth we realized that water is in fact rare The liquid state of water is rare and life is not the all-conquering Capability a life is only can squeeze itself into those environments where there’s liquid water Waters interesting in that if we look at carbon, which is the next part of the recipe for life where water is liquid carbon can be a solid a dissolved ion or a gas all coexisting in the same place Carbon is an unusual element in that it is capable of making Many many different kinds of molecules.
There are literally millions of organic molecules now And water then becomes the milieu in which all of the chemistry of carbon that leads to us is going to take place Carbon-based organic molecules, like amino acids are the building blocks of life Combining in liquid water to form the structures of every living cell On earth today these complex molecules are everywhere but where did they come from? On earth the problem we have in the scenario of the origin of life Is that when the earth formed around 4.
5 billion years ago, it had a turbulent period in its infancy With very intense meteor bombardment.
It has an awesome It was an extremely hot environment which is not conducive to the emergence of complex organic molecules One of the ideas that emerged around this is could some of this organic matter have come from space In March 2004 the European Space Agency launched the Rosetta spacecraft on a hunt for the building blocks of life beyond Earth its destination was 250 million miles away and Counting the moving target hurtling through space at 37,000 miles per hour a lump of ice and dust the size of Mount Fuji the Comet 67p Rosetta’s mission was to land on it and find out that it’s made of From 2011 onwards Nikola Altobelli was Rosetta project scientist We think that comets when they were formed remain somewhat frozen in a state that has not changed for billions of years So the idea is maybe they’ve incorporated the organic material that was already present in the molecular cloud from which the solar system evolved resistance Because comets formed in the icy outer regions they hold a frozen record of the solar system’s birth And as the young earth cooled and oceans formed around four billion years ago some of those same comments Came crashing down to earth So, could it have been comments Bearing the carbon-based organic molecules from our solar system’s birth that seeded life on earth It was the task of Rosetta’s landing module fillet to find out The landing was a time of very strong emotions and it took place over a full day It was the 12th of November 2014 In the morning there was confirmation of the separation The first image arrived taken by the lander when it was separating from Rosetta Then there were seven hours of waiting Around 4:00 p.
Came the confirmation of touchdown But the follow up signals suggested something wasn’t right The first panoramic images that were taken of the surface showed an orientation of the lander which was not as it should have been And as the hours passed we realized that the anchor had failed Filet had bounced back into space Then bounced a second time before finally coming to rest several hundred meters away.
I Remember someone saying filet dances a little Samba but we perform most of the scientific experiments that were planned One could even say because it bounced in several places it allowed us to obtain data from different areas of the comet And the orbiter perfectly fulfilled its mission The results were remarkable Fillet detected 16 organic molecules in Just a tiny sample of dust kicked up by the initial touchdown Among them some of the key building blocks of life on earth 50 percent by mass of the dust particles ejected by the comet is organic a carbon-based material This organic material came from the molecular cloud from which the solar system was formed And thus may have seated earth with all this organic material The organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life on Earth were already present in space Rosetta demonstrated that the building blocks of life on earth were created during the birth of our solar system But what about beyond Could these same vital ingredients be part of the birth of all stars? Looking back at our own earth and why we have this which you know biosphere Well, I think it all started with having all this organic material that we are made up of but that was delivered from space from comets and from asteroids So we were thinking about the likelihood of life elsewhere.
We’re pretty much thinking about the likelihood of having that same scenario taking place In 2015 Hi, honey, arid mountains of the Atacama Desert Professor Karen Oberg set out on a hunt for the building blocks of life In the birth cloud of an alien star system for the help of a new telescope called Alma Alma Consists of 66 individual telescopes that’s all working together it operates at millimetre wavelengths and Millimeter wavelengths is where we can detect molecules tell these organic molecules that we are so interested in Obert turned Alma’s gaze towards the Taurus system and found the young star MWC 480 in the throes of labor Girdled by a disc of gas and dust from which planets were being born We see this dust and gas surrounding these dis young stars and What’s even more exciting we see that they often have little lanes or tracks in them where it looks like? Confirmation is going on right now After months of collecting and analyzing the data Oberg announced a discovery that bluesy odds wide open of finding a second Genesis on other worlds In the disk of this alien solar system Alma had detected some of the same organic molecules that helped give rise to life on Earth We found three kinds of cyanides three molecules and the same chemical family and Those three kinds of molecules have also been found in our own solar system in comets The same organic molecules with the same molecular Spacial to create life are out there among the stars Chemistry is awesome is the reason that we are alive and that we’re here in the first place So far is only, you know one system apart from our solar system where we have this chemical information But my intuition would be that it’s going to be very common.
This kind of chemistry is gonna be almost universal I scan for sites or geochemical activity I find a hydrothermal field of fuel’s and hot springs On earth such conditions are rich in carbon chemistry and minerals I find another mineral-rich water source upstream I identify complex molecular structure in solution I extract a sample for analysis And return it to the lander module Could this be evidence of life? Let’s get the samples yet ya Can take another measurement The laws of chemistry and physics are universal so It’s a given that when we go to another earth-like planet with water with the sorts of minerals that we have here in the iron core and atmosphere is Inevitable that this kind of simple chemistry would have been present Okay, it’s 15 degrees up here, let’s see what this little guy has for us As long as there’s a chance for energy to interact with that mixture things will happen Wow, look at that One degree.
Keep going up the Question that we are heading for right now how certain can we be that that mix of simple chemistry? Could take the next step in complexity so life could begin In the hydrothermal fields of thumpers Hill California, all the ingredients of life are brought together water carbon molecules energy minerals Biologists David Deamer and Bruce Damer believe This is the kind of environment where life could get started on another world Bubbling pools strange colored rocks water of different PHS All kinds of flows and dynamics steam rising.
Looks like nature’s chemistry set and It’s an engine an actual engine for the beginning of a living system Conditions like this define the early Earth Evidence of similar environments has been found on Mars and Researchers expect hydrothermal fields to be a common feature of earth-like exoplanets But how might nature’s chemistry set cook up the recipe of life Everything that’s alive is in fact based on polymers.
Everybody knows the name DNA nucleic acid That’s one of the polymers proteins.
These are Amino acid polymers and that’s basically the start of all life.
Are those two polymers? So what we’re doing is taking small molecules the pieces of a polymer called monomers in fact And we’re exposing them to energy such as you see here at bumpass.
Hell and Seeing where that energy is sufficient to make those monomers link up one after another after another To make a polymer and in fact if we can make big protein like molecule And a nucleic acid like molecule and put it into a little wrapper a compartment We were on the way we call those protocells Each sample contains organic molecules or monomers Exposed to the mineral-rich steam and heat energy of the fumarole in an attempt to form a protocell We think that drying out such as you see all around us here at la pucelle water Coming in then drying out coming in drying out.
That’s a cycle We think that that cycle is very important to drive the process by which polymers are synthesized and then accumulate Let’s go for it Failure you sure yes The first experiment fails just as it would do many times on an earthlike exoplanet But if all the elements were present in conditions such as this this experiment in life would repeat again and again But some of them got a lot of liquid in one last try given enough time and keep in mind we have an entire planet with Lots of volcanic land masses coming up with lots of puddles like this trying to learn how to become a life Mostly its failures, but it would only take a few successful Protocells that happen to be able to survive and had learned how to make more of themselves So go ahead and get them into the boxes Is the universe made to make life This is a huge question that sort of beyond the scope of perhaps humans to be able to answer But what we can observe is everything comes down to cycling it comes to rhythms and overlapping rhythms and patterns And it’s almost as though if you get the right cycling and patterning in a system It learns how to do that itself and how to lift itself into being And so perhaps that’s the closest metaphor that we know That the geology gave us that ability the moon going around the earth gave us tides The rotation of the earth gives us days and nights Rainfall into these hydrothermal fields gives us geysers that are periodic and life still follows rhythmic patterns That’s the clue we have so perhaps it’s the universal harmonic that creates life Most of us tend to think of things are either alive or dead But the transition from not alive the inanimate states the animate state Is that transition only possible as a single step or is it possible as a series of steps? If it’s possible as a series of steps then the intermediate States would be partially alive Now you might say well come on It’s either alive or it’s not and I would say well The live means it’s got sounds the cells are replicating.
The cells are doing this that and the other You need all of that to be fully alive But the chance of getting that all in one go seems a little bit remote so maybe we got one of the attributes On and then it acquires another attribute and another and eventually it reaches the point where it is fully alive Professor John Sutherland is trying to retrace the steps in the origins of life in search of the processes that animate a cell into being Of course The cell is more than just the chemicals that comprise it Because her cell has just died is still the chemicals that are there.
So there’s something that energizes it that coordinates it and We don’t know how to get that but that’s fast goal So what we’re doing here is putting the sample into an apparatus in which it will be irradiated by ultraviolet light In a series of experiments that simulated the conditions of a young rocky planet Sutherland successfully achieved stage 1 in producing the basic components of a cell lipids proteins sugars and nucleic acids What we found is that you can make all of the components for life under slightly different conditions When you first see it happen, it’s like magic but it isn’t magic it it’s not as hard to make as we originally thought All the hardware of a cell can be created from a single base molecule that’s widespread among the stars But what about the next step How is that hardware organized and energized into life? If the conditions are the same elsewhere what are the chance that you can give them building blocks to life The chemistry of cells is unique and self-organized So one part of chemistry is actually controlling another and yet somehow that’s controlling the first one Chemists are used to controlling the chemistry themselves and the idea of letting things run and go off of their own accord Is something that goes slightly against your chemical education? How can chemistry take place if you like with the experiment – just Setting the system up and then letting it go over zone record Life is information that can reproduce itself Not hardware.
It’s genetic information.
That’s the key to life is the information and the DNA and the ability of the DNA to express that information in proteins and propagate the information that way DNA is the blueprint for all of life on earth an instruction book for how to make and maintain all living organisms Encoded in the twin coiling lines of a double helix is the genetic information That tells life to build a rose or a leopard or a blue whale If we find DNA on other worlds, there’s no doubt that there’s been life there the Characteristic molecules of life makes genetic molecules that contain information like DNA these molecules do not arise Non-biologically, they have to be built the surest as if we find a skyscraper on Mars We know that it was built and it’s not just a random assemblage of rocks That’s how we’ll find evidence of life My lander module prepares to uplink the sample data from the hydrothermal field My optical communication transmitted via hybrid silicon laser at 12 gigabits per second I received the signal and ingest the data for analysis Organic polymeric triple helix structure Some consistency with terrestrial forms and Yet unlike anything I’ve seen before a bio molecule of alien life We’ve come to a place deep in the outback of Australia Looking for what we think is evidence for the oldest life on earth Astrobiologist martin van cran donk is travelling back in time To the dawn of life on earth of the three and a half billion years ago Conveniently recorded in the ancient rocks of australia’s remote northwest At this time in early Earth there was a very different planet to what we have today We would have had some shallow seas but those seas would have been green because they were rich in iron And if we looked up at the sky the sky wouldn’t have been the beautiful blue that we see behind us here on Early Earth without oxygen the sky would have been orange we receive black continents of fresh basaltic lava that Would have been very active so there have been faults and earthquakes there would have been bubbling geysers that were going off It was actually a very alien Yet this alien earth was already inhabited Colonizing the shores of the crater lakes and the Seas that wash the ancient Pilbara landmass Was a living skin of slime But the bacterial communities that left the clearest fossil calling card built up their homes in high-rise mounds so the really wonderful thing about this outcrop is that you can look down and see the seafloor so long ago and Really you get this incredible view of the gentle undulations of the water moving across the surface But then popping up through our these domes and cone shapes all irregular different sizes different shapes These distinctive bumps of a fossilized dwellings of the oldest living organisms on earth It was here over three and a half billion years ago that stromatolites First raised their heads above the water of an ancient Shaw They can start to get a feel for life grabbing a foothold in the geological record And so this currently still is the oldest evidence for life on Earth.
It’s our Great-great-great great-great, great-great, grandmother’s and grandfathers.
That’s really the the precursor to everything that came later All the green bushes and the trees it all started here The prehistoric Organisms that built stromatolites was so successful.
They ruled the earth for up to 3 billion years Life finds a way And somehow these crafty architects found a way to organize water carbon molecules minerals and energy into a living cell Is this what we should be looking for on alien worlds My drone survey the dried-up basin of an inland sea But what’s this a lone survivor on the airplane Zero fight succulents ten FICO Berlin like pigment to absorb the red twelve son a hybrid of terrestrial and aquatic species Around 500 million years ago long since stromatolite s– first took root in the shallows Earth’s oceans bloomed with animal life It was a very different world to the one that had made way for microbes With air to breathe now and a protective atmosphere under a gentler Sun We think microbial life is gonna be very common that the conditions to produce microbial life Happen over and over and over and many many different planets But that animal life is only gonna be able to evolve and then stick around for any length of time When you have really stable conditions Professor Peter Ward is one of the originators of the rare earth hypothesis The theory that the long term habitability of Earth for animal life may be rare in the galaxy Habitability is really the ability of a planet to have conditions that can allow life first to originate but secondly to stay alive Habitable worlds can be just a short instant in time and then it changes and it gets nasty So what to us made earth rare is the long-term habitability the planet The fact that it has remained constant and temperature With the oxygen values we have That we don’t have these extremes in climate that we’ve got this Constancy, that’s the rarity of it My drones detect a disturbance in the electromagnetic field a Network of forged metallic structures Bearing the mark of Industry This is not a glance This is not animal but this is evidence of life I Am the mind of the mothership alone among the stars 50 years ago from a planet far away the planets you call home.
I launched a Journey of 28 trillion miles across the yawning time of space to the exoplanets Minerva be A small rocky planet much like Earth, but orbiting another Sun Here I have found water Organic molecules and micro organisms.
I Have found life When the news of my discovery reaches earth years from now some of you would be amazed But others who remain unsatisfied And you will ask have I not found animals or birds? Have I not met? intelligent life like us and So my search continues The great Marvel and the paradox of wide open spaces is that they make us look inwards Confronted with the infinite we reflect upon the self Where do we come from? Why are we here? Are we alone? As a young child I was mostly interested in philosophy and I used to wander Into the hills of the village where I was born.
I was interested in questions about our existence involving also the big Picture which is us being in the universe the question is how did we come to be? inhabiting this Two-dimensional surface on a piece of rock that we call our home the earth Near a star like the Sun that is one of tens of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy That is one of trillions of galaxies in the universe how did this all come about and Are we alone in particular? Professor avi love grew up, but he never grew out of his obsession with the fundamental mysteries of life Today as chair of astronomy at Harvard University lobe is part of a generation of elite scientists Riding a revolution in the quest to understand our place in the universe We are living at a very special time Over the past two decades thousands of planets were discovered Around other stars, and we realized that our solar system is not rare There are planets around almost every star and moreover about a quarter of all stars have an earth-mass planet Orbiting just the right distance for liquid water to exist on its surface and for the chemistry of life to develop The odds of finding life among the stars have never been better Following the detection in 2016 of organic molecules on the moons of Saturn on the comet 67p And in the disk of an emerging star system Scientists now believe that the building blocks for simple life are common throughout the universe in my view it is very likely that the life primitive life exists on many other planets the question of whether intelligent life exists is more difficult to answer because We don’t fully understand what led to our existence and moreover intelligent life existed on earth Just relatively recently in cosmological terms But I’m agnostic about whether the answer is yes or no.
I think we should explore rather than have a prejudice just like Columbus went out to discover the new worlds the answer lies in space I am in a stable orbit around the eggs or planets Miniver be My solar panels are configured to harness the full spectrum of its muted red dwarf Sun I Keep a watchful eye over my swarm of Explorer robots below I Scan the radio and optical wavelengths hoping for a whisper of alien technology But Minerva bee is silent What would it take to calculate the odds of finding intelligent life among the stars In the early 1960s one audacious astronomer Frank Drake Devised an equation to answer that question the Drake Equation essentially is a statement of our ignorance about Life in the universe in the first meeting held in the United States about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence Frank Drake and a number of other researchers got together and Drake needed a way to organize how the Discussion at the meeting would go when you sat down and fucked like well, what do I need? to know in order to know how many intelligent civilizations there might be out there in the galaxy for us to communicate with Drake listed seven variables He believed would need to be worked out in order to determine the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy With six of those seven variables unknown at the time Drake did not foresee the ready solution, but according to computational Astrophysicist Adam Frank, that’s all changing We are in fact going through quite a bit of a revolution in this this idea in this equation in particular what it comes from is The the fact that we have man old two of the terms Right.
So in when in 1962 when Drake wrote down this equation only one of the terms was known ah Stands for the rate of star formation or the number of Sun mass stars born each year in 1962 Drake put the figure at 10 But it wasn’t until 2011 that NASA’s Kepler space telescope Gave us the answers to the second and third variables in Drake’s equation The fraction of stars that have planets and the number of those planets with the right conditions for life to form it turns out that the fraction of stars with planets is Approximately 1 every star you see in the sky when you walk out at night and look at a random star in the sky It has a planet at least one and then the number of planets in the habitable zone turns out to be you know on the order of 0.
So this is like saying, you know if you look at between four and five stars, one of those is going to have a It’s gonna have a planet in the right place for life to form Remember that the galaxy contains four hundred billion stars Just the galaxy alone four hundred billion stars, right? So when you think about all those stars in the galaxy, that’s an amazing number Up to 80 billion exoplanets in our galaxy have the right conditions for life When you consider that at the time Drake formulated his equation no one knew if there was even one Exoplanet out there.
This truly is a revolution of our understanding But what about the other unknowns in the Drake Equation Inspired by Kepler’s game-changing discoveries a new generation of scientists has made it their mission to fill in the blanks Of all the habitable exoplanets out there how many of them actually host life This is the next unknown in the Drake Equation and the challenge it presents for scientists is immense How does one detect life from light-years away One approach that shows promise is to study the gases around Exoplanets in search of a so-called bio signature the evidence of life imprinted in the atmosphere.
I Think one of the things that’s most exciting for exoplanet atmospheres right now is that we can actually measure Gases with telescopes from Earth remote sensing is a very powerful technique.
It’s how we first study into the solar system Planetary scientist Sarah Horst is a leading investigator of atmospheric chemistry a Field that took off in a radical new direction in 2001 with the first ever detection of an exoplanets atmosphere There’s a very small number of gases that were pretty sure we’ve been able to see an exoplanet atmospheres, so water is one of the gases that people claim that they’ve detected Some other things that you don’t tend to think of as gases have also been detected things like sodium for example The main challenge with exoplanets is just that they’re very far away.
And so you need a bigger telescope That’s telescope is soon to be launched While atmospheric observations so far have been limited to a narrow range of gases the James Webb Space Telescope Will be the first instrument capable of sampling a broad spectrum The challenge now for researchers like Horst is to define a set of bio signatures gasses that indicate the presence of life for the James Webb to go looking for One of the gases on on earth that is most, you know Most significant in terms of the fact that there’s life on Earth is oxygen, you know, the oxygen on earth is produced by life That’s why it’s here But oxygen isn’t necessarily a bio signature if you saw oxygen around another world You wouldn’t necessarily say.
Oh that’s life Europa is main Atmospheric constituent is o2 and it’s not from life.
It’s from breaking up water.
So it’s difficult to point to One gas or even a small set of gases that you would say if I see that I know there’s life there that said solar system exploration tells us that we will always be surprised and so You know it’s quite possible that there is going to be a planet where we get the data from James Webb and it is going to be Glaringly obvious from the data that there is life on that planet Horst’s generation may well be the first to put a number on the fraction of habitable exoplanets that hosts life But the next unknown in the Drake Equation Could prove much more challenging to resolve How many of those life-bearing planets go on to develop intelligence? Even if we understand that other planets have simple I fought them and indeed we might be able to make astronomical observations to test that in the next 10 20 years Then of course, there’s another big uncertainty which is how likely it.
Is that simple life Evolves as it did on earth into a marvelous complex biosphere Containing even creatures like ourselves.
We don’t know what the chances are of getting from simple life to Advanced life of the kind.
We recognize as intelligence After 47 days of expiration I have found no trace of extant animal life and So I searched into the past I scan the strata of an exposed defamation for fossil evidence I apply the data to my orbiter for analysis There’s something here Reptilian Approximately 1 million years old to rest your compatibility detected an armored Commodore like species Marine compatibility also found a possible transitional species from sea to land The complex life failed to establish itself on the surface of maneuverable or is this evidence of extinction To solve the next unknown in the Drake Equation The fraction of worlds where simple life evolves to intelligence We need to understand the evolutionary pathway to advanced life on earth Just over 540 million years ago evolution on our planet took a giant leap forward There’s no better place to understand that process than here in the Canadian Rockies In the rich fossil deposits of the Burgess Shale For well over a century the fossils hidden in these mountains have helped generations of scientists retrace the evolutionary pathway to complex life on earth Professor Robert Gamez and dr.
Jean-bernard Curran a leading the excavation of a recently identified deposit in marble canyon Battling the icy wind and snow for the prospect of a new discovery Something to show you here that would collect it the other day.
It’s a big slab Wow this fall so here Wow.
Yeah, it’s quite extraordinary, isn’t it? I’ve never seen anything like it That’s the exciting part of our commercial and or something new coming up these rocks contains some of the first evidence of multicellular organisms on our planet The first eyes The first hard body parts pose and exoskeletons The first lateral symmetry the first efficient guts Even the first brains Sculpted in the finally packed sediment of an ancient ocean is the turning point in the evolution of advanced life on earth the Cambrian explosion Very good have a very nice slap and some Dahlia on it Wow, that’s quite spectacular So to put things into perspective Today we know life is widespread.
It’s all our owners in the oceans in the mountains and so on so forth and we can trace the root of all these life forms to pretty much the Cambrian period As far as we know life dates back at least at that three point four billion years ago and it wasn’t until about 540 million years ago that we have the Cambrian explosion and that fundamentally changes the planet it goes from a microbial world to one that is literally teeming with animals and not just Small and simple animals as we would have originally imagined but instead we have a whole array of complex life Still only in Earth’s oceans at that time, but all of the major groups of animals appear geologically instantaneously Among the species found here is one of the ancestral roots on the tree of intelligent life So one of the most important fossils that we find here in this area is Metis Prague I know it’s hard to pronounce but it’s actually very very important fossil for the understanding of all the vertebrates and This is an animal that looks like a fish he has a pair of eyes in the front and the structure which we call a notochord which part of it will eventually become our spine and meta Springer doesn’t have any evidence of Structures that could help him to protect itself.
So I tend to think that perhaps he was smart In the fact that we find them clustering which shows evidence of schooling is very much reminiscent to what we know in modern fish who have Evolved us such behavior to avoid predation Predation is a very key factor in in driving the evolution of animals and we see evidence of that here in the burgess shale As organisms began to develop both a weaponry to capture one another as well as defenses Eyes closed camouflage armor All these new tools required coordination by a nervous system the stuff from which the brain is made So could intelligence be the product of an evolutionary arms race We certainly see on earth a connection between predation and mobility Organisms that can just sit in the Sun and soak up the Rays they don’t need to move their food comes to them but organisms that Prey on vegetation need to be able to move around and organisms that prey on the prayers need to move even faster They need to be really strong and fast and you could argue that that dynamic of predation and motion Causes the development of intelligence and maybe somehow it leads the sort of overwhelming intelligence that humans have expressed Is this the inevitable progression of evolution from simple life via diversification and predation into intelligence Or is an event like the Cambrian explosion So rare that life on other planets might never get the chance to pass first base I think that wherever we find life in the universe that life will change through time in a way that’s consistent with What we’ve learned about evolution on this planet, I think that is a general feature of life To Professor Andy no Similar environmental conditions or biomes will give rise to similar Evolutionary solutions no matter where in the universe that takes place it’s a theory known as convergence If you look at a bat for example and a bird they both fly using wings and yet they don’t have a common ancestor That flew and had wings.
They have evolved that capacity from separate origins but to a similar functional hand In advanced animal life some convergent biological structures are so common as to be almost universal Well, the eye is a terrific example of convergence because And we all understand what the eye.
Does that your eyes are this sophisticated? Sensory apparatus that allows you to engage and engage with the world around you interestingly if you look at squids and octopus They have a visual system that is every bit as acute as ours but evolves from a separate source there again There’s no Common ancestor of squids and mammals that had an eye Is convergence a magic funnel that guides life on any planet Inexorably towards intelligence or could there be other more powerful forces at play? The absence of terrestrial animals Oh Minerva bee could indicate an extinction event Or that life has not successfully transitioned as it did on earth from sea to land.
I Deploy my submarine exposure module into the Minerva sea In the shelter of the ocean life should strive Extensive macroalgae and peripheral suggests high water oxygenation and shallow UV penetration Ideal conditions for advanced life to evolve a giant trilobite like species Take mater body plan and dorsal exoskeleton Comparable with late Cambrian arthropods on earth Complex mobility and behavior a school swimming information Perhaps a strategy to avoid predation strength in numbers or a kind of camouflage The force variable in the Drake Equation the fraction of life-bearing worlds that evolve intelligence still eludes scientists today On earth the great burst of life during the Cambrian explosion was an integral step on the path to intelligence But could widespread death have been just as important Einstein said God doesn’t play dice with the universe Well, it seems that he does and there’s a whole lot of dice going on in the evolution of life Paleontologist Peter Ward is an expert on mass extinctions.
The catastrophic change is a fortune in the game of life When the majority of animals lose and just a few inherit the earth This is a mammal-like reptile Actually called a glorg an OPS Ian or a Gorgon.
It was the biggest and baddest carnivore of the late.
Permian 252 million years ago and this is a baby.
The big ones were three metres to 4 metres long very large skulls crossed between a lion and A big saltwater crocodile if you will half reptilian half mammal all nightmare these guys all died out in the Permian extinction 252 million years ago this entire group gone The Permian extinction was the most devastating of the five mass extinction events in Earth’s history Experts believe an intense surge of volcanic activity led to dropping sea levels acid rain and poisoning of the atmosphere More than 95% of marine life and over two-thirds of terrestrial animals were completely wiped out we setting the stage for the evolution of life on our planet the Permian extinction did far more than just the top carnivore it took out the herbivores that took out most of the Plants it took out the insects the amphibians, but what did get through were a couple small? reptilian groups real small size Like pruning a rose cutting back the Tree of Life gives rise to rapid growth as New branches reach out their leaves to the light with little competition or threat from predators surviving species adapt quickly to fill the gaps left behind The tiny reptiles that survived the Permian extinction drooled to hundreds of different species including dinosaurs Who ruled the earth for over? 100 million years until their own date with disaster arrived I mean that was a very rapid and hideous death probably every dinosaur dead within three to six months max That was a line in the sand who wins? Well who won are the small creatures? the T Rexes died out and tiny mammals get through and then they developed into all of the kinds of mammals we see today and they did so really fast the size of the skull of the Animal that gave rise to us was the size of a robin egg or smaller Might the evolutionary branch that led to us never have grown had it not been for the random impact of an asteroid 65 million years ago, I Would support the idea that in fact if we still had not had the impact something else might be running around as intelligent But I doubt it would be in this form and the set of behaviors that we humans have If our own existence is the outcome of a random cosmic disaster Then might the fraction of worlds that evolve intelligence be equally unpredictable But if we could go looking for alien intelligence on another planet, how would we recognize it Well, I think the method of looking for complex behavior in a different planet is to do what behavioral scientists do you look you Observe you see how animals move how they respond to stimuli how they act as a biologist.
Who does this? Regularly, I find that extremely exciting because the discovery quotient would be very high But it would also be weird and alien, I sort of like weird in aliens.
So I think that would be a lot of fun Professor Roger Hanlon is an expert on the closest thing to a lien intelligence on earth Cephalopods squid octopus and cuttlefish the undisputed masters of disguise because they have to be Cephalopods are soft-bodied All their armor was given away through evolutionary time to their cousins the oysters and the clams and they are soft body They’re extremely vulnerable.
So they have to get on by their wit’s they have to do something different They’re making that decision in Far less than one second and about one.
Third of one second.
They’re assessing that visual scene now, they’re orchestrating in their skin 30 million Carano for pigment organs in the skin that create the pattern and iridescent Reflective cells and even the skin Capelli in the bumps.
There are several thousand of those so that takes a lot of cognitive processing a lot of brain power Cephalopods have the highest brain to body mass ratio of all invertebrates and their brains are decentralized Meaning neural tissue is distributed throughout their body Having split from our only group of vertebrates well before the Cambrian explosion They are the product of an entirely separate experiment in the evolution of intelligence If you look at the evolutionary history of complex behavior We know about vertebrates and humans and primates and all the rest but through evolutionary time There’s only one group that is branched off to produce really complex behavior.
And it’s these animals the squid octopus and cuttlefish So what we expect is for the white square to show up in the white head bar the white head bar is already there And now it’s changing its pattern a little more It’s blanched a little bit.
You can see these two markings down here, but we’re looking for that white square to appear.
I think the correlation you might make for looking for extraterrestrial intelligence would be Don’t expect anything like humans or dogs and cats and all the things we’re used to hear underwater.
You have this weird Octopus with its head on its feet and distributer brain, but they’re doing complex things We might find something very similar in a different planet It might be a different size a different shape and it’s form of intelligence may be different as well So I think we have to open our minds and recognize the diversity on this planet to set the stage in the framework for going To other planets to look for life-forms and intelligence Night falls I may never be and A secret wealth is revealed Bioluminescent organisms rise from the earth Winged insects resembling lampyridae Complex life exists on land but hidden from the Sun a Predator breaks, its camouflage and reveals a nocturnal hunting ground Since the 1960s when Frank Drake drafted his equation the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been defined in terms of the search for a technological civilization Being unable to travel to the Stars Drake’s solution was to scan for signals that our earthbound technology could detect Hence, the penultimate unknown in his equation the fraction of intelligent civilizations that develops technology The key here is the ability for that civilization to be detected by us And so that is really going to require some kind of world girdling industrial civilization, right? so, you know if there was a Roman Empire on this distant planet We really would have a very hard time seeing it but once they start generating and or start deploying Industrial-scale technologies on a global scale then we think that there is going to be ways we would be able to see that The new technology when the Drake Equation was formulated was the radio Telescope and those who search for extraterrestrial life today still believe an alien radio signal is what we’re most likely to detect I Think I get comments at every party I go to not that I go to a lot of parties However, people say oh you’re looking for radio waves from et.
I mean that’s pretty old-school, isn’t it? They won’t be using radio Well, tell me what’s better I mean as far as we know there really isn’t anything better because radio waves can traverse the distances between the stars so the signals can get here and Radio goes right through the gas and dust that hangs between the stars so you can send radio signals as far away as you want Seth Shostak has spent his life listening to the stars As senior astronomer at the Institute for the search for extraterrestrial Intelligence or SETI? It’s his job to scan the heavens for alien technology We try anything we can to pick up some Information some sort of signal that would tell us, you know We don’t know what they’re like or what their taste in music.
Is there anything like that? But what we do know is that they’re smart enough to build a radio transmitter, for example With limitations on technology time and resources the dilemma for SETI has always been where to listen We haven’t heard anything, I mean this would be straight up about that and some people think Yeah, the reason you haven’t found on anything is because there’s nothing to find.
We’re the smartest things in the universe Well, I don’t think it’s true I think the reason that we haven’t heard anything is simply because we have only looked at a very small number of star systems but that’s changing because of the improvements in technology instead of looking at a Couple of hundred star systems every year you’ll be able to look at a couple of thousand and then five years down the road It’ll be tens of thousands and in the next two thousand years We’ll be able to look at on the order of a million star systems Now if you look at a million star systems the chances of finding something are not so small So I bet everybody a cup of coffee will find et within two dozen years.
I could be out a lot of coffee For almost 50 years since Drake wrote his equation we listened but nothing we heard couldn’t be explained as interference or a natural phenomenon until one day in 2007 in rural, Australia Astronomers picked up the first in a series of mysterious signals that still puzzled the science community today But first we didn’t dare believe they were real Fortunately, I’ve seen them with my own eyes.
I saw the very first sweep of the first one could sleep that night it was like could this possibly be real this is amazing and We’ve been able to work out how far away they are in the universe and they’re Impossibly far away, they they’re billions of light-years away.
So the process that creates them is so energetic That is great mystery as to what causes them The strange signals have been dubbed fast radio bursts Blasts of radiation so powerful.
They emit the energy of 500 million suns Professor Matthew bales leads an international effort to study the phenomenon here at the Milan low Observatory fast radio bursts are these mysterious Bursts of radiation that only happened for a few milliseconds the sky lights up and then they go away again they’re about a million times more luminous than Anything we’ve known about in our own galaxy Since the first detection in 2007 there have been more than 40 fast radio bursts detected worldwide Five in just the last year were detected here by bales One of the Holy Grails is to find a repeating fast radio bursts And is there any pattern to the fast radio bursts do they come in? Special gaps or they regular if they’re very regular we might associate that with a rotating neutron star Where a sort of death Ray’s going past the earth, you know once every 20 seconds or something if they come at irregular intervals, or if they came separated by a code that showed us that there was some higher Intelligence behind it.
You might think there’s an intelligent Civilization that’s actually transmitting this signal That would be Nobel prize-winning stuff Of course the next question then is could we or should we send a message back If we took our biggest radio telescope We could actually mimic what a fast radio bursts would look like and if we were trying to communicate with other Intelligent beings we might imagine that they go through a stage of their evolution Where they’re searching for fast radio bursts in the same way.
I am here and Then if you could find one that repeats and find a pattern that might be a way of doing into civilization Communications which is a fascinating think But we’re really interested is a civilization like ours an industrial civilization that show signs that in building tools You know of whatever kind they have Gotten to the point where they clearly have a kind of Reasoning rational intelligence a culture that we might be able to talk to them Right because that’s really what we want to know We want to know like what’s it like to be them because all we know is what’s it like to be us? If I received a signal from outer space, how could I tell it was language as opposed to anything else? To put a figure on the fraction of civilizations that develops communication We need a way to decipher if an alien signal is actually trying to tell us anything I analyzed over 60 different languages Human languages plus languages like dolphin Jim the birdsong So on the left here you’ve got Neil Armstrong speaking from the moon On the right here we put a dolphin communicating You can see here quite easily the rhythms going on the sounds we’re making How similar those constructs are it’s picking up those rhythms in those interrelationship patterns that I think are fundamental to any communication whether it’s on this planet or in another planet and Looking at the complexity of all those patterns into relay.
You can actually tell how intelligent the author is When the signal arrives it’s first checked against known sources of interference It’s a pulsar That repetitive Sound going on listening to that we were at that’s not little green man.
That’s too simple Algorithms then scan for the telltale patterns of communication whether its source, maybe an audio recording or an intergalactic email It’s an awfully big sky, we’re getting more and more Capability online the hardware to do it But I suspect unless we eavesdrop on something.
It may be a while before we hear anything We want to be ready for it.
It says no point just Sitting back and saying oh well do saying when it happens is doing all this Ahead of time.
So we’re prepared for Again, it could happen tomorrow.
We just don’t know Recent advances in the remote observation of planetary atmospheres have opened up a new method of determining whether an exoplanet hosts or has previously hosted a technological civilization the composition of the atmosphere can provide us with a hint about the Intelligent or perhaps not so intelligent life that pollutes the atmosphere with industrially produced molecules Pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons are released into Earth’s atmosphere by industrial processes and do not occur naturally Detecting them in an alien atmosphere would therefore be a clear footprint of technological life? Some of these molecules exist for tens of thousands of years After they were introduced to the atmosphere in principle We can find evidence for a civilization that is no longer in existence on the surface of that planet We can find graveyards of other civilizations My drones have picked up a disturbance in the communications field a Sporadic interruption to the network Is this what caused it Some geometrical formation metallic magnetically charged Part of a larger configuration which seems to bear the mark of design Could these be the ruins of Amina? realization the tombstone of an alien intelligence The final factor in the Drake Equation is El the average lifetime of a civilization and In some sense.
This is the most difficult Term to even think about because we’ve got, you know only one example and we don’t even know what our own future is when Drake conceived his equation in 1962 our own global civilization was on the brink of disaster as the powers of East and West faced off in the Cuban Missile Crisis The group that came up with the Drake Equation at that first workshop for them in 1962 The great fear was nuclear war and at the end of the conference Otto Struga, who was the head of The Observatory where the conference is being held made a toast and said, you know 2l may it be very long? The Cold War did eventually thaw But while the nuclear threat is diminished today, we have created for ourselves new dangers The question is how long are we gonna last do we only have another two hundred years before we collapse do we have you know? 200 million years in front of us.
So this is you know, it’s really a fundamental question and it’s a fundamental question For human beings because right now with climate change and sustainability We really face this existential crisis about really are we going to be able to make it through to more than another? 100 or 200 years Could this be the ultimate limiting factor in the Drake Equation That before technological civilizations work out how to search for life among the stars They destroy themselves In order to become a truly a spacefaring race that takes a lot of time to be able to really have settlements on Mars To really start to begin to have a human presence in the solar system Will take hundreds of years and you know, if we can’t make it more than a couple hundred years clearly you’re not You know We’re not gonna develop that kind of society and then to ever really think about getting to the Stars Sending probes to the Stars being around for the signals to come back.
You have to last a long time.
I Think those two things are intimately connected and you don’t get the stars unless you get the Earth I prepare for my final transmission back to earth The data I’ve collected will take five years to arrive longer to download and Generations to fully comprehend I could provide a summary but what should I say? I have found everything you’ve hoped for and also what you feel I have seen life of marvelous complexity and the traces of a devastating loss I could say Minerva is your second earth and I hope one day You get to see You.