NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the successor to Hubble, could detect signs of life on other planets within the next five to 10 years, according to Caprice Phillips, a PhD student at the Ohio State University.

Due to launch in October 2021 after years of delays, the new cutting-edge telescope could allow humanity to detect life signs on distant planets in as little as 60 hours, according to early calculations.

“What really surprised me about the results is that we may realistically find signs of life on other planets in the next 5 to 10 years,” said Caprice Phillips, a graduate student at the Ohio State University.

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Phillips is due to present at the 2021 APS April Meeting on Sunday, to discuss exactly how the new eye in the sky might detect biosignatures on distant gas dwarf planets, which include both super-Earths and mini-Neptunes.

Phillips calculated that once the James Webb Space telescope becomes operational after its expected launch in October, it could detect ammonia signatures on approximately six gas dwarf planets in a matter of just a few orbits.

The presence of ammonia is just one potential biosignature that astrobiologists consider in the ongoing search for life elsewhere in the universe, but the JWST’s improved infrared resolution and sensitivity and wider array of investigative long-range sensors will afford humanity an unprecedented view of the universe around us. (RT)