The US space agency will need help from the ultra-rich in the bid to search for extra-terrestrial life.
Geoffrey Marcy, a retired professor of astronomy at University of Berkley, California, says that billionaires could help fund Nasa’s missions to Enceladus, Saturn’s icy moon where many experts predict there is microbial life, to look for ET.
He told Astrowatch: “We need a spacecraft to travel to Enceladus, fly through a geyser plume, and analyse the water that is immediately accessible.”
Prof Marcy added that with the help of the rich, aliens could be found much sooner.
He continued: “The NASA missions, as currently planned, will require at least 20 years before a detection of microbial life will happen, at the earliest.
“However, a brilliant team of billionaires could work with NASA to fund a spacecraft to Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.
“It could capture the water spurting out the geysers and use conventional microscopes to detect any microbial life there.”
Any mission to Enceladus, one of 62 of Saturn’s moons, would be relatively simple and could help to answer questions that have dogged mankind for centuries, according to Marcy.
The ex-professor says that it would require a spacecraft that is able to fly through the plumes that are released and stem from beneath Enceladus’ surface and attached with a probe that could detect microbial life.
Prof Marcy: “The remarkable aspect of the search for microbes in the water spurting from geysers is that the spacecraft only needs to fly through the plume, well above the surface of Enceladus.
“No lander is needed—just a succession of flybys through the plumes as it orbits Enceladus.”
He added: “The mission should also include a microscope and camera to image directly any organisms in the water that are as small as a few microns in size.”