Confirming the existence of life on other distant planets would be one of the greatest discoveries in our history. I believe that many space enthusiasts would love this to happen in the coming decades. But is it realistic to expect such discovery in very short time frame? If so, which of the upcoming missions has the greatest chance of doing so given the equipment they will be equipped with?

  • $\begingroup$ I think it might be hard to write a fact-based answer to this question. One person can say "Mission A" and another "Mission B", both could make compelling arguments but there'd be no way to judge which is the correct answer. While that doesn't make this a bad question, it does make it a poor fit as a Stack Exchange question. Do you think you can modify this in order to require fact-based answers? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 22 '20 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ The first space based planetary coronagraph will be on WFIRST that is being built right now. Two of the missions competing for the 2020 Astrophysical Survey: HabEx and LUVOIR include planetary coronagraphs. HabEx and/or LUVOIR are scheduled to be launched in the 2030's. All will use spectroscopy to examine the components of exoplanet atmospheres. The presence of water vapor, oxygen, and methane would be extremely promising, indicating that the planet MAY harbor life. However, CONFIRMING the presence of life on an exoplanet, barring the unexpected, is not likely to happen anytime soon. $\endgroup$ – Vince 49 Feb 29 '20 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Vince 49 - you could write this as an answer it's very informative. Thanks $\endgroup$ – WOW 6EQUJ5 Feb 29 '20 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ @WOW 6EQUJ5, planetary coronagraphs, star shades, and finding habitable exoplanets are fascinating subjects. They are also complex. I just spent 15 to 20 hours on my recent answer to the "Balancing a Mirror" question. Having a life (more or less), I can't afford to spend the level of effort these subjects deserve right now. 'Maybe later. $\endgroup$ – Vince 49 Mar 2 '20 at 2:26

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