Dr. Laurie Leshin is not only an alumna of Arizona State University, but also the leader of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the world’s premier center for robotic exploration of the solar system.
In her role as the director of JPL, she oversees the development and operation of missions that seek to answer some of the most fundamental questions about our place in the universe, such as: Is there life beyond Earth?
One of the most exciting projects that JPL is currently working on is the Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars in February 2021.
The rover’s main goal is to search for signs of ancient microbial life on the red planet, by collecting and caching rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future missions. The rover also carries a helicopter named Ingenuity, which has demonstrated the first powered flight on another world.
Speaking to Fox 10 Phoenix recently, Leshin described JPL’s mission to explore other worlds and offered her thoughts on the recent UFO hearing.
“One of our biggest ambitions at JPL is to find life elsewhere,” she said. “We’re trying to explore all kinds of places in our solar system and beyond that might have life.”
“If you’re a scientist, the biggest question you can ask is, ‘Are we alone in the universe?’ So that is what we’re trying to answer. We’re on the precipice of it.”
As for the recent UFO hearing, Leshin seemed to be less enthusiastic.
Have you seen spacecraft made from outside this world?
Leshin: “Absolutely not. No.”
Has anyone ever talked about that with you?
Anything you make of those hearings on Capitol Hill?
Leshin: “I mean obviously there’s lots of interest. Our interest is in following the scientific evidence in looking for life elsewhere, and I think we have the chance in our lifetimes to answer that question. Whether it’s intelligent life.
“That would be very interesting, obviously. But if you just look at life on Earth. It stayed very, very simple for a very long time. Single-cell organisms. The algae in our pool we all know about in Arizona. Things like that. That’s much more likely the life we’ll find … especially locally.”