NASA Appropriation Includes Funding for Search for Alien Life

For the first time in more than two decades, Congress is considering funding the search for little green men on mars, which has astronomers excited for what the future holds, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

"Over the past 25 years, we're started to find planets around other stars,” Texas A&M professor Darren DePoy says.  "In the next ten years, a lot of activity will be directed towards finding out what those planets like."

Tucked into a NASA funding bill is $10 million earmarked for the search for alien life.

"The search for techno-signatures, such as radio transmissions, in order to meet the NASA objective to search for life's origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe," it reads.

This is the first time in more than two decades that Congress has taken this type of research seriously.  The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, program was killed in 1993 by Sen. Richard Bryan.

San Antonio Congressman Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, says scientific journals now publish over a thousand articles on astrobiology every year. 

"As I noted during the markup of the NASA Authorization Act, testimony before the Science Committee has indicated that we are on the verge of a breakthrough in the search for life in the universe. In fact, NASA’s newest space telescope, TESS, which launched April 18, will search for exoplanets that could be probed by other telescopes for the biosignatures of life," Smith said.

 He says it’s clear that the scientific community and the public is very interested in this research. 

And while some wonder whether this is the best use of taxpayer dollars, DePoy says this does benefit society.

"It's not so much that it matters on a day to day basis, but it's the kind of thing that we should be able to do while solving those other problems."

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