Rep. Brian Babin's Statement at Astrobiology Hearing

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is holding a hearing titled, "Advances in the Search for Life."

Chairman Babin Opening Statement Advances in the Search for Life

WASHINGTON -  U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Space, delivered the following statement today at the hearing, Advances in the Search for Life. Today's witnesses are Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Dr. Adam Burgasser, professor of physics, University of California, San Diego and UCSD Center for Astrophysics and Space Science; Fulbright Scholar; Dr. James Kasting, chair, planning committee, Workshop on the Search for Life Across Space and Time, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine; Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University; and Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer, SETI Institute.

As prepared for delivery:

The science of astronomy, astrophysics and astrobiology expands mankind's understanding of the Universe. It seeks to answer fundamental questions as to the nature of our Universe, our place within it, and whether there is life beyond Earth.

NASA has a long history of space-based astrophysics and astronomical science. Since the 1960s, NASA has operated space-based observatories. Among the most famous of these are the Hubble Space Telescope, which has produced some of the clearest images of the Universe to date.

Looking to the future, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), set to launch in 2018, will be the most powerful space-based observatory to date and will be used to search for planets outside our Solar System that could harbor life.

In my own district, at Johnson Space Center, NASA's historic "Chamber A" thermal vacuum testing chamber is being used for end-to-end optical testing of JWST in a simulated cryo-temperature and vacuum space environment. I'm proud to represent the hard working men and women at Johnson Space Center contributing to JWST, our nation's next great space-based observatory.

Johnson Space Center is also home to NASA's "Astromaterials and Curation Office." This office is responsible for the curation of extraterrestrial samples from NASA's past and future sample return missions. This is an exciting responsibility for Johnson Space Center and an important contribution in the search for life beyond Earth.

We live in exciting times. The NASA Authorization Act of 2017 provides strong direction for NASA to continue to search for life and advance the science of astronomy, astrophysics and astrobiology. It is quite possible that with continued efforts, humanity will finally answer the question and know definitely whether life exists on other worlds.

I thank today's witnesses for joining us today and I look forward to hearing your testimony.

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