Scientists Detect Microbial Life of other Planets- Talk at ITU by Dr. Nozair Khawaja

Scientists Detect Microbial Life of other Planets- Talk at ITU by Dr. Nozair Khawaja
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November 21, 2017

The conditions required for life to flourish and the cutting edge research is being conducted by scientists from various parts of the world to detect microbial life on other planetary bodies such as Saturn’s moon, Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon, Europa. This was stated by Dr. Nozair Khawaja a PhD from the University of Heidelberg and is currently a Postdoc Researcher on Planetary Science by Space Missions at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Heidelberg during a talk organized by Lahore Astronomical Society (LAS) in collaboration with Information Technology University (ITU) on, “The Search for Life in the Solar System.

A question perplexed humankind for decades is whether we are alone in the Universe. If we are not, what does extraterrestrial life look like and where does it reside? In the talk Dr. Nozair Khawaja spoke about the current research in the field of Astrobiology.

The talk focused an overview of the current research in the field of astrobiology – the search for life in space, to look for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System in search of water, an energy source and organic molecules on other planetary bodies. Until the 1990’s, it was claimed that there is no liquid water except on Earth. However, the Galileo and Cassini-Huygens space missions have changed this prevailing view. Liquid water is suspected on Jupiter’s moon – Europa and found on Saturn’s moon – Enceladus, where the surface temperature is below -100°C. Liquid water exists in the form of oceans lying under icy crusts of these moons.

With the discovery of icy plumes on Enceladus, the general view on the habitability of the outer solar system has changed. The Cassini-Huygens mission analyzed the composition of icy grains ejected from the moon and discovered the subsurface salty oceans, organic compounds, hydrothermal activity and tidal heat as an energy source. These discoveries have made Enceladus a potential candidate for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System. Future space missions are currently in the preparation phase to look for signs of extraterrestrial microbial life on Europa and Enceladus.

Osaid Alam Shah, a student of BS Computer Science at ITU, commented that, “The lecture catered to the mainstream audience who mostly had little or no prior knowledge of astronomy.” Another student of BS Electrical Engineering at ITU, Abdul Moeed commented that, “the talk added to our knowledge, especially the fact that signs of life have been detected on the moons of the outer planets of our solar system.”

Lahore Astronomical Society (LAST) was founded in 1995 by a small group of amateur astronomers and is now the leading amateur astronomical society in Pakistan, which is actively and consistently involved in public outreach, education, and scientific research, all of which are free of cost. A large number of people from different walks of life including the core members of Lahore Astronomical Society, The Planetary Society and the students of ITU attended this session. For further details Contact: Aamna Saleem              Cell phone: +92 323 841 0523

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