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New JWST Results Show We’re On A Path To Finding Alien Life, Say Scientists

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We are living on the cusp. Within the next few decades, we may well have hard evidence for the existence of alien life on worlds light-years distant from Earth. That was my takeaway from new results that the James Webb Space Telescope released a couple of weeks ago. While there was some controversy that swirled around the announcement, it really had nothing to do with the science itself, which was (to my mind) quite beautiful. So, let’s dig in to see how JWST is revealing the path humanity will take to resolving the age-old question: Are we alone? The JWST press release came following a new paper by Nikku Madusudhan of the University of Cambridge and his collaborators titled “Carbon-bearing Molecules in a Possible Hycean Atmosphere.” The basis of their science was the revolutionary technique called “atmospheric characterization.” So, what did Madusudhan and his colleagues discover? Two molecules in particular were detected with high degrees of confidence: methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). As you can see from the chemical formulas (and the paper’s title), these are molecules with the element carbon in them. Why was that important? To answer that question, we need to look at the planet the astronomers were focusing on… (READ MORE)

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