Last week, hacking group Anonymous spilled the beans that NASA was about to announce the discovery of alien life.
Anonymous released a video last week that suggested that NASA was about to make a big announcement—that life beyond Earth exists. Anonymous claimed that a NASA scientist announced the discovery of life beyond Earth at a meeting of the US House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Apparently, Professor Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said that humanity is on the verge of discovering life on other planets.
Thus, if you're expecting the source of this speculation to be hacked or leaked documents, it unfortunately isn't. Zurbuchen had been laying out NASA's progress in the quest for alien life, and had not presumably said anything about an imminent history-making announcement. As such, Zurbuchen has finally denied Anonymous's claims today.
"Contrary to some reports, there's no pending announcement from NASA regarding extraterrestrial life," Zurbuchen wrote on his Twitter account. Zurbuchen also adds that NASA is still in the process of finding out whether or not there is life out there beyond Earth.
So what has NASA discovered so far anyway? The Kepler mission, for one thing, has discovered thousands of new planets and verified over a thousand. NASA also announced just last week that it has discovered 219 new planets. The spacecraft Cassini, meanwhile, discovered indications that Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, may be able to support life. NASA is also set to explore Jupiter's moon Europa to look for signs of alien life.
These, among many others, are discoveries that show how far NASA has gone in the search for extraterrestrial life. Thus, Zurbuchen announced at the meeting that the agency is on the verge of discovering life outside of Earth. However, he did not announce that a discovery has been made. With so many possibilities and so many studies on where to look, people can be optimistic that the agency will make a breakthrough at some point in the future. After all, there are several places that may host extraterrestrial life. In fact, there's a possibility that we may find life just next door.
Thus, it is indeed possible that NASA is on the verge of making a huge discovery. However, the agency likely doesn't know yet if and when it will make an announcement of this nature. This is probably because it hasn't made the discovery of extraterrestrial life itself. At the end of the day, the confusion seems to stem from misleading phrasing. Anonymous made it sound as if NASA had already made a significant discovery and is just sitting on it for an unknown reason. Anonymous may or may not have made a deliberate effort to make the wording confusing, but it's clear that we won't be hearing big alien news from NASA soon.
Or, maybe, we will. At this point, anything can be possible. One of the agency's probes may stumble upon incontrovertible evidence of alien life tomorrow. One of the massive telescopes here on Earth may capture clear evidence of alien megastructures. However, until NASA itself makes the announcement, it may be best for us to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism.
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