Namira Salim

Astrobiology: From the Editors’ Desk

A few renown personalities in the field of Astrology speak on some of mysteries of Universe.

Following the theme of our Astrobiology edition, we asked some renowned personalities of Pakistan to share their views on man’s search for life.

Questions

  • 1.     How do you view astrobiology? What will be your definition of it?
  • 2.     How many chances are there for the existence of ExtraTerrestrial life and has it made any contact with us yet?
  • 3.     What do you think about the “WOW Signal” and other theories about regarding aliens?
  • 4.     What can life look like on other planets? Can it be like what we see in popular culture or not?
  • 5.     Should we able to unravel the mysteries about our origin on this planet after learning about ExtraTerrestrial life? How can it be so?

Namira Salim

Namira Salim is the first Pakistani to have traveled to the North and South poles and the first Asian to skydive (in tandem) from Mount Everest. She hoisted a peace flag on behalf of the nation at the two poles of the world. She is also one of the founder astronaut of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, the first private space-line of the world.

Namira Salim
  1. Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary scientific field that explores the origins, early evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. I view it as important research into the origin and evolution of planetary systems, the origins of organic compounds in space, life processes and habitability.  This scientific field is exciting, not only in terms of what may be discovered about the potential for life on other planets – for example, through the exploratory work of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission carrying the Curiosity rover to probe for past and present planetary habitability of microbial life on Mars – but also for its potential to bring us greater insight into life processes on Earth.
  2. In our own solar system alone, there are many places that life might exist, not to mention the rest of the expansive universe that is yet to be explored. We simply have not evidenced it with our limited vision or when seeking ingredients for life – such as water, oxygen, chemicals, and energy – which may not even be important for other forms of life in the universe. So, we are limited but–by our six senses and have perhaps, totally missed all evidence of life out there!! 
  3. The Wow! signal has been a source for great speculation since it was picked up in August 1977. However, the Center of Planetary Science (CPS) has suggested that the 72-second Wow! signal might have come from a hydrogen cloud accompanying a comet which had not yet been discovered when the signal was heard. Two comets had been in the same part of the sky at the time and the movement of the comets would explain why the signal was not seen again during subsequent monitoring. The CPS team recently got a chance to test their idea as the two comets, P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) and 266/P Christensen, appeared once again in the night sky from November 2016 to February 2017. Radio signals from 266/P Christensen matched those from the Wow! signal 40 years ago. To verify their results, they tested readings from three other comets, as well, and found similar results so I am convinced by their findings. However, the universe is so vast, and we know so little about it in relative terms so we should remain humble and accept that someone somewhere may be trying to reach out to us in other ways we do not currently comprehend.
  4. There are so many planets, all with their particular characteristics and which may or may not be capable of supporting life, as we comprehend it.  In my view, one only has to look at our own planet Earth and observe the variety of life forms supported by diverse environments to be able to conceive of a very multiform life existing on another planet somewhere in the universe at some time or another. In my view, however, it is unlikely to exist as it has been portrayed in popular culture and we should keep an open mind about the form it may take. And most importantly it doesn’t have to be like the one on Earth and based on the limitation of our minds.
  5. Scientific research always provides us with new insight, whatever the field of study. Whatever we learn about the planets and life forms beyond our own planet will undoubtedly help us to deepen our understanding of the Earth’s evolution and, hence, our own beginnings as its inhabitants. Let us not forget that space exploration to date and the experiments conducted there have brought us a significant number of inventions and technological progress that we take for granted today. The astrobiology will most definitely contribute greatly to unraveling some of the mysteries related to our origin on this planet.
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