We are living in exciting times. As recent observations continue to reveal the vastness of our universe, the potential of life existing beyond Earth is becoming a frequent topic of conversation.
The possibility that we are not alone is compelling even to those who are not interested in the topic and tantalizing to those who are.
Jim Green, the director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA, is one of the scientists involved in the search for life in the local solar system and he offers a definition of “life as we know it” to help guide the discussion.
And Thunder Bay appeared very interested in joining the discussion with Green on Wednesday during his presentation, the Search for Life beyond Space and Time.
Life, Green told them, must be able to metabolise, reproduce and evolve.
“All life as we know it, from plant to animal, from microbe to intelligent life, has those three characteristics,” he said.
Recognizing that the recent discovery of the Trappist 1 exoplanet solar system has generated a lot of discussion about the possibility of life existing beyond our solar system, Green guides us further along the discussion by providing us with a definition of intelligent life.
Astronomers, he says, describe intelligent life as being able to “mutate beyond their boundaries and have the ability to communicate in some way,” Green said, in an interview prior to the presentation.
But intelligent life, he reminds us, is only the tip of the iceberg in the enormous richness of the biosphere. Green, who is an expert in space physics, is focused on the search in the cosmic backyard of our own solar system.
He has overseen NASA’s flyby missions to Pluto, Mercury, Jupiter, asteroids Vesta and Ceres, as well as the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars, and his presentation outlined the highlights of each mission’s contribution to the scientific search for life beyond Earth.