Does life exist beyond Earth? Jason Steffen of NASA’s Kepler Mission talks new planets, aliens

A diagrams showing how hidden stars may be the actual size of planets. Single use only. (Photo: NASA.)

Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Jason Steffen, has been working with NASA as part of the research team for the Kepler Mission. This mission is in it’s final stages where release papers are ready to be submitted. The spacecraft is still functioning under there K2 Mission.  NASA’s goal under the K2 Mission is to create a spacecraft and science program. Since the spacecraft is getting older, NASA has changed the direction of the spacecraft in they sky to make it easier to steer.  The K2 gets reviewed every two years, where budget constraints are also analyzed at this time. Primarily, the K2 Mission is searching for different planets around different stars, determining whether or not these exoplanets could be habitable. So, is life on other planets really that common? One way to analyze this is by fractions of stars. For example, if 1 out of every billion stars has life around it, that’s still 300 in a galaxy.  Regardless of this being in a rudimentary stage of research, Steffen says he would “not be surprised to find life out there.”