Today’s Top Space Headline –NASA & The Pentagon: “The Truth is Out There”

 
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Sandwiched between the 10th and 11th seasons of The X-Files, 2017 felt like the year aliens finally went mainstream. Why 2017 was a banner year for discussing, searching for, and panicking over aliens.


If you wanted to believe, writes Neel V. Patel in Slate, 2017 was the year to do it. Thanks to an explosion of new discoveries of potentially habitable planets outside our solar system, a better understanding of how life might evolve on other worlds, and not inconsequentially a shift in the culture, aliens are no longer regarded as just another realm of paranormal craziness. We now have a modern-day NASA that is explicitly directed to look for life, billionaires pouring money into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and a Department of Defense that admits it was studying UFO sightings for some time.

 

Sandwiched between the 10th and 11th seasons of The X-Files, 2017 felt like the year aliens finally, actually, for real this time went mainstream. Nearly 61 percent of the world’s population believes alien life exists somewhere in the universe. That’s little surprise when you think about how much happened this year.

For starters, NASA scientists began the year with the announced discovery of seven potentially habitable exoplanets in the TRAPPIST-1 star system, 40 light-years away. It’s going to take more some powerful instruments to really determine whether any of those planets possess the essentials for life (liquid water, an atmosphere that keeps things warm and fuzzy, a star that isn’t spewing out violent radiation in every direction), and the system is way too far for anyone to even dream about sending a spacecraft there before we’re all dead and gone. But the system’s discovery is a critical sign that potentially habitable worlds are probably much more common—and closer—than we had ever imagined.

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