Finding traces of life outside Earth will take a long time, stated noted astrophysicist and planetologist and researcher Athena Coustenis to ANA-MPBA at the Paris-Meudon Astrological Observatory.
However, Coustenis did not exclude important discoveries in the future on the satellites of Saturn and Jupiter, while warning that due to the climate change, the Earth is in danger of becoming — at sometime in the future — unsuitable for life such as the planets of Venus and Titan.
Athena Coustenis was born in Athens in 1961 and in 1980 went to Paris for studies. She was granted her first PHD in astrophysics from the University 7 “Pierre and Marie Curie.” Today, she is head researcher (first class) at the National Center of Scientific Research of France (CNRS) and at the Paris Observatory. She has worked on research and consulting level with the European Space Agency (ESA) and with NASA. Her research that started with Titan and the participation in the space mission Cassini/Huygens, focuses on the atmosphere and the planets and satellites of our solar system’s surface particularly on those with astrobiological interest in connection with possible life existence.
Cousteni has received a series of international awards and is the new president of the European Committee of the European Institute of Sciences and president of the International Committee for the Atmosphere and Meteorology. “I believe that the exploration of space is at its start and we will need lots of time until we have indications or evidence of life. The main question is what we are looking for and where. Me and my team are not searching for life but for indication of ‘sustainable environments, meaning places where the conditions are favourable either for extraterrestrial life or for future colonization. We have today the means to explore our solar system in depth with space missions and the science of astrobiology focuses on this kind of studies, which are in full progress, as I stated in my last book. The satellites for the gigantic planets Jupiter and Saturn as Ganymede, Europe, Titan and Enceladus are the most interesting for this exploration because we are now searching for friendly environments with water, energy and nutrients existing under the surface, and not on the surface. In terms of search of life we are, for the time being, trapped for technological reasons, to the exploration of our solar system but there might be living conditions in outer space as well. In this case we can’t do an on the spot detection neither now nor in the near future because the distances are enormous and beyond imagination and do not allow space missions which is the only way to have tangible and final evidence.”