The discovery of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of K2-18 b, a massive planet more than 100 light years away from Earth, is a "very small indication of the possibility" that it can sustain life, but humans couldn't live there, retired NASA astronaut Capt. Winston Scott, professor emeritus at the Florida Institute of Technology, told Newsmax Sunday.
'"This is quite the exciting news, thinking that the oldest question that people have, that [is there] life someplace else out in the universe," Scott said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America."
Last week, astronomers led by the University of Cambridge, announced, based on data from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the discovery of methane and carbon dioxide in the exoplanet's atmosphere and said the results are “consistent with an ocean-covered surface underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere," reported The Washington Post.
The discovery on the planet, which is about 8.6 times larger than Earth, "provides a glimpse into a planet unlike anything else in our solar system, and raises interesting prospects about potentially habitable worlds elsewhere in the universe," the researchers said.
"But more important, there's a material, it has a long fancy name but we just simplifying as DMS, dimethyl sulfide on Earth that is produced only by living organisms … so if it's only produced on Earth, there's a possibility it is produced on this far away planet," Scott told Newsmax.
The planet where the discovery was made is "very large and very dense," so even if it could sustain life, humans could not live there," added Scott, currently the director of operational excellence at Kennedy Space Center.
"We would not even be able to stand up on our own weight," he said. "So, there are some similarities … but it is unsustainable to our life. Also, it is so far away. Remember, it's 120 light-years, so we couldn't even get there."
Still, the point is that there are other places that "could possibly sustain life," said Scott. "At some point in the future, we're going to have to find another place to live. Our sun will burn out the Earth, and it will cease to exist. We've got to find someplace else to go."
Meanwhile, Scott said he is "very skeptical" of reports concerning the discovery of extraterrestrial bodies in Mexico.
"If you want to believe these things are from outer space, I have a bridge in London I'd like to sell you," he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version included an outdated title for Scott.
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