Will James Webb Finally Discover Aliens? | Unveiled

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In this video, Unveiled takes a closer look at how the James Webb Space Telescope might finally discover alien life in the universe! Webb is looking into the universe in literally a whole new light, and that means that there will be so many new discoveries made... and the chances have never been higher that extraterrestrial life could be found!

Will James Webb Finally Discover Aliens?

The first images released by the James Webb telescope have rightly earned headlines all over the planet. These breathtaking pictures show us the universe in literally a whole new light, revealing the cosmos in greater detail than ever before. And that’s led to excitement of another kind, too… with the watching world beginning to wonder whether this spectacular machine might soon lead us to first contact?

This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; will the James Webb space telescope finally discover aliens?

Launched in December 2021, and escaping Earth’s atmosphere with such impressive efficiency that the projected lifetime of its mission was effectively doubled within the first few hours, the James Webb heralds a new age of space exploration. We’ve watched with growing intrigue as the telescope has maneuvered itself into position, almost one million miles away from Earth, and we’ve already passed some spectacular milestones. The magnificent unfolding of all of its parts - including the tennis court-sized sunshield, and the record-breaking primary mirror - have put some in mind of a great bird, opening its wings for the first time. On launch, the Webb appeared a tightly-packed cylinder of science and technology… but now that it’s fully operational, it soars through space, all that way away, as a spectacular feat of engineering and innovation.

So far, the mission has played out almost perfectly. The first five images were released by NASA - at a global event presented by President Biden - in July, 2022. And, finally, the world was able to see what all the fuss had been about. The incredible detail in the first image revealed thousands of whole galaxies that we’ve never been able to see before, and all within just a speck of the sky - from our perspective. With NASA explaining that what we were seeing amounted to only the area covered by a single grain of sand held at arm’s length from the surface of Earth… this one picture demonstrated the true size and scope of the universe better than anything else before it. There followed four more images, released the following day. One intricately showcases star birth along the edge of a nebula; another is a 150-million-pixel composite of five galaxies interacting; a third reveals a nebulous explosion of gas and dust; and, the fourth, an atmospheric breakdown of a far away gas giant. And, when it comes to the search for aliens, that last one might just be the most important of all.

Webb’s first publicly released “atmosphere composition” focuses on the gas giant exoplanet, WASP-96b. This alien world was first discovered in 2013, and is positioned more than 1,100 light years away from us. It has just less than half the mass of Jupiter, and it takes just more than three days to orbit its yellow dwarf star. The crucial thing about it, though, is that there’s water present there… and we know this with certainty thanks to the James Webb telescope. Webb’s view of space is so phenomenally accurate that it’s able to detect even the smallest changes in the light and brightness of an object. Among other things, this means that, when it’s trained on a targeted planet, it can determine the very molecules that exist within that planet’s grasp - within its atmosphere. And, in the case of WASP-96b, there’s H2O, water.

Of course, we know that the presence of water is one of the most promising signs of potential life anywhere in space. And also of the potential for human habitability, should we ever need to source the cosmos for another home away from Earth. At this stage, it’s perhaps unlikely that WASP-96b specifically will yield either ET life or a future human home… but the unparalleled study of it that Webb has already served up, is a glimpse into an extremely exciting future. SETI, or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, has gained greater and greater coverage, influence, and importance over recent years. But, arguably, we’ve never had anything quite like this to make SETI possible. With Webb, we can now gaze at planets and moons and see them not just as fuzzy, “maybe” destinations for a hypothesized alien force… but instead view them for what they really are. Now, if there are biosignatures for life on any given world, there’s greater hope than ever before that we will find them.

It’s important to note, as well, that this isn’t merely an indirect application of the James Webb data. The search for potentially habitable worlds (and the origins of life) is actually one of its official mission goals, along with gaining a better understanding of the early universe, and of galaxy, star, and planet formation. Over recent decades, and thanks to prior missions like the WASP and Kepler exoplanet searches, we’ve built an ever-growing database of confirmed worlds outside of the solar system. We also have a better than ever understanding of the true number of planets there likely are in the universe, total, and it’s in the high billions, perhaps even trillions. But, until today, we’ve rarely gotten to know any of them in detail. That’s all set to change in a big way, and quickly, thanks to Webb’s superior vision. And that’s before we even add into the mix various other next generation telescope missions that are scheduled to launch soon, like the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, which will work alongside Webb to scour the cosmos.

The famous Fermi Paradox asks; if aliens are so likely, then where are they? And perhaps now, more than ever, we have the tech to deliver an answer. Predictions are that if ET life does exist, then Webb will find it… and most likely via deep atmospheric studies, like that we’ve been given a first glimpse of for WASP-96b. Naturally, an upside to this particular approach is that any alien group that is uncovered wouldn’t necessarily know that we know about them. Webb’s sunshield may well be the size of a tennis court, but it’s still a tiny prospect against the massiveness of space. This, then, is a SETI mission with almost zero “cosmological footprint”... so, unless the aliens we potentially discover already know we’re here, it’s not as though we ourselves will be any more noticeable than usual. This is SETI at a safe distance, but we’re searching in high-definition, all the same.

It’s not as though there won’t be troubles ahead, though. As we mentioned at the top of this video, so far the Webb mission has played out almost perfectly. It was long delayed before launch, but once it finally got off the ground everything seemed to seamlessly fit into place. The pinpoint launch earned the telescope at least double its expected mission lifetime, while the machine reached its destination and entirely unfurled without anything going wrong. The first problem came to light in late July, 2022, however, when news broke that a meteoroid collision had permanently damaged one of the panels that make up Webb’s mirror.

Now this, in itself, isn’t critical for the mission. There are eighteen panels in total on Webb, and one, quite small impact to just one of them isn’t expected to have too negative an effect. But it does serve to highlight just how hostile space can be once you get beyond the relative safety of Earth. And, if a damaging meteoroid can hit within just the first few months, then how likely is it that the same thing will happen again, and again, until Webb is broken and bruised beyond working order? It’s one question that Webb controllers will now be under pressure to answer… because with the mission costing a reported $10 billion to date, there’s a lot riding on it continuing to go well!

Here’s hoping that Webb does continue to function, because we definitely want many more images like the first ones released. And, from a SETI perspective, we definitely need to see other worlds in as clear and clinical detail as we’ve now seen WASP-96b. Based on that opening image, we’re in a position now to effectively map the water in the universe. To follow the water trail to wherever it might take us.

What’s your verdict on Webb’s early stages? And what are you predicting it will uncover in the coming weeks, months, and years? Could first contact with extraterrestrial life really be imminently possible? If so, then we’re about to turn all those science fiction fantasies into a twenty-first century reality, and we’re on the verge of making probably the single greatest discovery in the history of humankind. Are we alone in the universe? It’s one of our most fundamental questions… but an answer could be just around the corner, all thanks to a gallant telescope one million miles away from home. And that’s why Webb could finally discover aliens.