The James Webb Space Telescope will open a new page in the search for alien life

The James Webb Space Telescope will open a new page in the search for alien life

Despite the potential for alien biological life in our solar system — in the groundwater layers of Mars or in the subterranean oceans of the Jupiter satellite of Europe — scientists can be the first to find signs of life on distant exoplanets. The James Webb Space Telescope has just proved that, and it has not worked properly. But the first Webb data suggests unique discoveries.

One of the first scientific data from Webba was the discovery of water vapour on the WASP-96b exoplane. Life on it would have been useless, because it's a gas giant only half the size of Jupiter. It's unlikely that there will be conditions for the biological life we know on Earth. It's just a demonstration of the potential of James Webb, which can detect an exoplanet atmosphere of carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour in the spectrum.

Spectrum instruments of the new space telescope can capture weak signals that are reflected or passed through the atmosphere by remote exoplanet. The atmosphere absorbs photons at certain wave lengths, which makes it possible to judge their composition. The WASP-96b exoplanet, for example, is located at a distance of 1150 light years, which did not prevent Webba from providing data on its atmosphere for the first time. Note that the new NASA telescope is not confined to searching for biological signatures in the universe, but that would not prevent it from making many discoveries in this area that are not beyond the mountains.

According to theoretical calculations, only in our galaxy of the Milky Way can there be about 300 million potentially viable planets, of which a few can be the size of our Earth and are relatively close — within 30 light years — for example, Webb is preparing to explore the TRACIST-1e exoplanet, which is only 39 light years old and has the size of the Earth, although its star is very, very small compared to the Sun.

To date, astronomers have discovered over 5,000 exoplanets — a sufficient base to seriously search for biological life in the universe — before Webba and the new telescopes that will be available to scientists before the end of this decade, to study massively the composition of the atmosphere of the exoplanet and to search for the signature of biological life in their composition, has virtually nothing to do with them. Now such instruments are emerging, which opens up a new chapter in planetology and astrobiology.

In addition, more precise tools to search for extraterrestrial life will be available to astronomers by the middle and end of this decade: the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Space Telescope and three giant ground telescopes with mirrors up to 30 and 40 metres: the Giant Magellans Telescope, the Thirty-Size Telescope and the Extreme Large Telescope.