The prospect of finding life outside of Earth has long fascinated scientists and the general public alike. And according to Brazilian astronaut Laysa Peixoto, we are now closer than ever to making this groundbreaking discovery. Peixoto, who works at NASA’s L’SPACE Academy, shared her experiences and scientific findings during a panel appearance at CCXP23 Unlock, an exclusive event of Comic Con Experience.
At just 19 years old, Peixoto made history by becoming the first Brazilian to command an aircraft from NASA. She has since dedicated her career to developing space exploration technologies and has undergone intense training to become the first Brazilian woman to venture into space.
Peixoto expressed her personal belief in the existence of intelligent life in the universe. She also stressed that from a scientific perspective, we are getting closer to finding all forms of life, including those that we have yet to identify. She emphasized that the concept of life in space is much broader than what is depicted in science fiction films and series.
One crucial element for life as we know it is water, and it has already been found on various planets. Peixoto expressed hope that future space expeditions would uncover signs of life on Mars, a planet that has long intrigued scientists. She drew comparisons between the fictional world of Dune and the real-life discoveries made by astrophysicists and astronomers, pointing out the possibility of planets completely covered by water.
Beyond her scientific pursuits, Peixoto recognizes the importance of representation in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. She believes that cinema and television should feature more diverse portrayals of scientists and explorers, including women. Peixoto stressed the need for female characters who embody intelligence and expertise in science fiction narratives. She also called for programs and projects that highlight the achievements of women who have made significant contributions to science but whose stories have been overshadowed or erased.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Peixoto became involved in a research project related to space. She honed her skills in using different software to analyze various aspects of astronomy. It was during this period that she discovered a new asteroid in space at the age of 18. Working with The International Astronomical Search Collaboration program, she assisted in the search for celestial bodies, including those monitored by NASA. The asteroid she helped identify was named LPS0003, with her initials serving as a temporary designation.
Peixoto acknowledged that the threat of asteroids colliding with Earth is a cause for concern, as depicted in the recent Netflix film “Don’t Look Up.” While she recognized that movies tend to dramatize such events, she emphasized the importance of tracking and monitoring celestial bodies as they pass through our solar system. The risk of an asteroid impacting Earth is real, and efforts must be made to ensure the safety and well-being of our civilization.
Despite initially studying physics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Peixoto’s involvement in asteroid research ultimately led her to join NASA and pursue a career in astronomy. With the support of Manhattan University, she was able to transition from her physics studies to a program at the prestigious government agency.
In conclusion, Laysa Peixoto’s work and experiences serve as a testament to the ever-growing progress in our exploration of space and the search for extraterrestrial life. With her passion for science and dedication to breaking barriers, she is a shining example of the possibilities that lie beyond Earth’s atmosphere. As technology advances and our understanding of the cosmos deepens, it is only a matter of time before we uncover the secrets of life in the universe.