NASA administrator Bill Nelson says it’s likely we’re not alone in the universe.
“Are there other planet Earths out there?” Nelson asked during a livestream with the University of Virginia Center for Politics last week. “I certainly think so because the universe is so big.”
“Who am I to say that planet Earth is the only location of a life form that is civilized and organized like ours?” he said.
Nelson, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Florida, said he’s spoken to U.S. Navy pilots who’ve seen unidentified aerial phenomena. In June, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report that found the U.S. government couldn’t explain 143 cases of unidentified flying objects reported by the military from 2004 to 2021.
“I’ve talked to those pilots and they know they saw something and their radars locked onto it,” Nelson said. “And they don’t know what it is and we don’t know what it is. We hope it’s not an adversary here on Earth that has that kind of technology, but it’s something.”
Nelson said NASA is constantly looking for proof of life in the universe, including on Mars. He predicted to U.S. would get to Mars in the late 2030s and that samples collected there would help us “start to unlock the secrets of was there any life there” in the past.
“If there was water, there was likely life,” he said. “It’s very possible that we could see there was life on one of these other planets even in our solar system.”
NASA is also exploring how to knock asteroids off course, like in the 1998 film “Armageddon.” The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, will hit an asteroid at 15,000 miles an hour and watch what happens with its trajectory.
“If it was successful, then if we discover in the next century that an asteroid is inbound for Earth, an asteroid that would not only blow up Earth or change it like an asteroid did when the dinosaurs lived and wiped out the dinosaurs, then that’s the way of avoiding that catastrophe,” Nelson said. “That’s all going on right now!”
For people who hope to make it to space without being an astronaut or billionaire, Nelson said the price for space tourism will come down, but not anytime soon.
“it’s going to be a while because space is hard and as a result, space is expensive, so it’s going to be a while,” Nelson said. “But the cost will come down.”