In the past year alone, scientists have found evidence of liquid water on Mars and signs that the Red Planet once had flowing rivers. NASA experts have also discovered the existence of complex organic compounds which are the building blocks for life, and that methane levels fluctuate throughout the Martian seasons. This has caused optimism in the scientific community, and NASA chief Jim Bridenstine believes the space agency is on the brink of a major alien discovery.
He told NPR podcast All Things Considered: “Each of these things adds up to say that the probability of finding life on a world that’s not our own is going up.
“And Mars, I think, is that best opportunity in our own solar system to find life on another world.”
Mr Bridenstine went on to say that NASA’s proposed Moon mission in 2024 will see them establish a lunar base and pave the way to get to Mars, which will likely be achieved in the 2030s.
The NASA administrator continued: “It just so happens that the moon is a proving ground, so we can go to the moon and we can learn how to live and work on another world.
“How do we retire the risk? Prove the technology and then take all of that to Mars.”
NASA’s ambition to get back to the Moon and to Mars has been met with some criticism in America, with only 23 percent of a recent Associated Press survey wanting to see another human on the lunar surface.
Instead, Americans want the Government to put money into healthcare and national security.
Mr Bridenstine said in response to people’s concerns: “Let’s put it this way. People said the same thing when we were trying to go to the moon in the 1960s.
“It was not the most popular program in the United States government and here we are.
“What are we doing? We are celebrating the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, 50 years afterwards.
“If you look at how people are listening to this right now, maybe some are listening on XM radio, maybe some are going to get it on the Internet using Internet broadband from space.
“All of these capabilities were developed by this little agency called NASA, during a time we called Apollo.”