The US space agency NASA has announced the launch of a new program to search for extraterrestrial life NExSS. Within the program not only planetary scientists, but also climatologists will search for traces of extraterrestrial life and living organisms.
“We are bringing together a bunch of different disciplines, and they all look at the formation and functioning of planets in different ways,” says Mary Voytek, who directs NASA’s astrobiology program and organized NExSS. Although interest is high, Voytek says, communication remains a challenge. “You can’t even get these communities to agree on a definition of the habitable zone.”
Del Genio’s group is one of around 16 - ranging from Earth and planetary scientists to solar physicists and astrophysicists - that are participating in NASA’s new Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) program.
One of the innovations of the program NExSS is that climatologists who are currently working on the adaptation of existing models of the Earth’s climate to work with exoplanets are actively participating in the program.