Famed astronomer Jill Tarter claims that this is the century alien life will be discovered.
The NASA scientist – whose career was the inspiration for the 1997 movie Contact – revealed in a speech at the Florida Institute of Technology’s Cross Cultural Management summit that by the year 2100, the answer to the long-asked question of alien life will be answered.
Tarter, 74, is the research chair for NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program and has dedicated much of her career to the search for alien life, including help build the Allan Telescope Array which surveys the skies for alien signs.
Jill Tarter (above) – the astronomer portrayed by Jodi Foster in the 1997 movie Contact – said in a speech Saturday that by the end of this century ‘we are going to be finding life beyond Earth’
Tarter, left, pictured in 1992 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. Jodi Foster portraying Tarter in the 1997 movie Contact, right
The film is based on an astronomer -played by Jodi Foster above – who finds evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make ‘first contact’ with the alien
‘I think that in this century we are going to be finding life beyond Earth,’ she said at the conference Saturday in her speech entitled A Cosmic Perspective: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves.
Despite today’s desperate search through the galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life, she claims that humans are only looking at minute slice of the expansive universe.
‘We’re out in the boondocks. And our star, the sun, is only one of 400 billion other stars in the Milky Way galaxy,’ she said the conference crowd according to USA Today.
‘And our Milky Way galaxy is only one of about 200 billion other galaxies in the observable universe,’ she added.
She claimed that the hunt for foreign life can be achieved by looking out for biomarks left on planets and moons.
‘We can discover it: We can find biomarkers on planets or moons of our solar system. We can find artifacts in the solar system as we explore. We can look for remote biosignatures in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets,’ Tarter said.
‘Or, perhaps we can detect the work product of technological civilizations: technosignatures,’ she added.
‘We’re really working on an ancient human question. And that’s very, very rewarding. We might, within the 21st century, have the answer to whether there is life beyond Earth. And we’ve been asking that question for a very, very long time,’ she added.
Tarter is pictured with a front view of the Allan Telescope Array that she helped build which was completed in 2007, which surveys the skies for signs of alien activity
The astronomer is pictured with co-worker Dr Frank Drake in front of a frequency antenna in California in 1992
She displayed images of telescopes and celestial displays in the galaxies at the summit captured by the Cassini probe in 2013 and Voyager 1 in 1990.
She explained the great strides technology and astronomical data has skyrocketed during her lifetime alone.
‘When I was a student, we learned there were nine planets in our own system — and then we went and lost one of those,’ she joked.
Her plan with SETI is to raise enough funds to upgrade the Allen Telescope Array, a powerful field of telescopes she helped create that survey the skies in search of alien intelligence.
The farm of telescopes completed in 2007 surveys 20,000 stars near to Earth.
She is also raising money for a Laser SETI initiative which will establish a prototype at the Lick Observatory near San Jose, California.
She hopes to build a series of cameras around the globe to keep an eye on the skies for clues of alien life.
‘We can build a series of 96 cameras, spread around 12 sites around the globe, working in the optical and infrared. We will literally be able to look up at all of the sky, all of the time to see if there are any bright flashes. To see if any other phenomenon, like fast radio bursts, have an optical component. I’m really excited about it,’ she added.