If there is any concept more riveting than that of alien life, we haven’t come across it yet. Since the beginning of recorded knowledge, humanity has been fascinated by the question of our purpose in the universe and whether we are completely alone out in all of this. The question hasn’t fallen on deaf ears and it seems like NASA is refocusing on making finding an answer their priority. Mary Voytek is a senior scientist of astrobiology for NASA and she has been uniquely focused on the question herself.
Mary Voytek will be the first to tell you that the search for a greater ‘truth’ in the universe will be wildly difficult to find an answer. However, she’ll also tell you that we are all in on it together. Voytek said, “Everyone is an astrobiologist — they just don’t know it yet.” What she means by this, simply put, is that the search for life beyond Earth will require professionals from every single discipline in order to come to a conclusive answer. Astrobiologists will work with planetary scientists and chemists as well as geologists and everything else in between. This is a truly group effort. Voytek’s work is made both easier and more possible by this realization. Voytek is charged with bringing together all of these brilliant minds in order to pool their resources and help collaborate amongst them.
In 2017 the United States Congress updated the lawbooks surrounding NASA. The change essentially pointed NASA toward making sure they pursued life beyond Earth as their primary objective in order to bring in new information, supposing that it is out there to be found. This isn’t really a change for NASA, but having the official directive on the books doesn’t hurt. Voytek believes, as many others likely do, that the current golden age of astrobiology is one of the deciding factors in Congress’ decision to get involved.
Right now, NASA is pulling in data in droves and brilliant minds are working to sort it out. From the Kepler Missions, which revealed countless worlds outside of our solar system, to the Apollo Missions and everything in between, we are bringing in fantastic information. This information is being culled by scientists who are determined to find life or a livable world beyond our own. This pure pursuit is really going to be one of the most impactful ways that humanity is ever effected.