Nusantaratv.with– National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Eight) has promised to start looking exoplanet and life outside the solar system by 2021.
“The media uses the term ‘looking for extraterrestrial life’, but the technical term is the search for habitable exoplanets,” said the head of Lapan, Thomas Djamaluddin, Wednesday (28/10) as quoted by Jakpost via ANN.
Reportedly, the exoplanet search project will first begin in Indonesia following the construction of the National Observatory on Mount Timau in Kupang Regency, East Nusa Tenggara.
Hailed as the largest observatory in Southeast Asia, the facility began construction in 2017 under the partnership of Lapan, the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Nusa Cendana University in Kupang, and local governments.
“Originally (construction) was expected to be completed in 2020, but it was postponed until 2021 due to several obstacles, including road access and the Covid-19 pandemic,” added Thomas.
Thomas insists that exoplanet hunting is only one of several forthcoming projects for Lapan, which will also provide public education in astronomy through a new observation center.
With its advanced 3.8m diameter telescope, the observatory will assist astronomers in hunting for exoplanets that might host life like planet Earth.
Data collected by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) reveals that astronomers have found more than 3,000 exoplanets outside the solar system after 20 years of observations on land and in outer space.
TESS recently discovered the first possible habitable zone, an Earth-sized planet called TOI-700d, which is located 102 light years from Earth.
It could potentially be home to water and have a life-sustaining atmosphere.
With the existence of an astronomical observation center in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia will soon join other countries in the hunt for habitable zone exoplanets.