The U.S. House of Representatives has Issued Legislation for the Future of NASA
The U.S. House of Representatives has issued legislation for the future of NASA, which proposes that $10 million be spent each year for the next two years on the search for techno signatures, such as radio transmissions.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Life Institute (SETI) searches for radio signals in space. It used to have government funding up until 1992 but it was cut after objections from a senator because nothing had been found.
Former director of SETI research, Jill Tarter, was part of that project which used radio telescopes in Puerto Rico and California that searched space for possible signals.
Now Tarter hopes that the latest legislation from Congress will help the search resume and enable the construction of better equipment to study space for longer.
She told The Atlantic that $10 million at once for one year won’t do much but $10 million a year, as an ongoing funding stream, could really help. Adding that it could allow people to build special-purpose instruments, and then use it on the sky for a long time.
After the government cut it’s funding, NASA has been focused on looking for biosignatures in space and signs of early microbial life, meaning SETI scientists had to depend on academic institutions or private donors to keep up their research.
Avi Loeb, from Harvard’s astronomy department said even if detecting tiny microorganisms in our own solar system was more probable than finding communication from light years away, SETI research is still important.
He told The Atlantic that he doesn’t see a reason to do one and not the other, since it’s also very hard to look for primitive life.
Back in 1992, our solar system housed the only known planets but now, there are over 3,700 known exoplanets, many of which were discovered by the spacecraft Kepler.
Seth Shostak, from SETI said that Kepler showed us that planets are as common as cheap motels, so that was a step along the road to finding other life because at least there’s the real estate. That doesn’t mean there’s any life there, but at least there are planets.
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