A couple of months ago top US astronomers gathered in front of Congress to let them know that extraterrestrial life exists – without question. They cited the sheer size of the universe as their most important proof, emphasizing that there are trillions of stars out there, with one in every five most likely harboring an Earth-like planet (though it is important to keep in mind that planets do not have to be “Earth-like” in order to harbor life).
“The number of habitable worlds in our galaxy is certainly in the tens of billions, minimum, and we haven’t even talked about the moons. And the number of galaxies we can see, other than our own, is about 100 billion.” – Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at California’s SETI Institute.
This time, NASA and the Library of Congress have teamed up to bring together scientists, theologians, philosophers and historians from around the globe for a two day symposium in order to discuss how to prepare the world for extraterrestrial contact, whether it be microbial organisms or intelligent beings.
One of the theologians present was Brother Guy Consolmagno, who is the new president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. This is what he had to say:
“I believe [alien life exists], but I have no evidence. I would be really excited and it would make my understanding of my religion deeper and richer in ways that I can’t even predict yet, which is why it would be so exciting.”
He is urging the public not to be surprised when extraterrestrial life is discovered, because it is inevitably going to happen. He even said that he would be happy to baptize them, if it’s intelligent extraterrestrial life that’s discovered. The Vatican has been very open to the idea of intelligent extraterrestrial life, and they’ve expressed these views for a very long time.
Earth is not the center of the universe, it’s not flat, and it’s looking very likely that the next major, paradigm-shifting revelation will be the fact that we are not alone in the universe.
It’s great to see the mainstream world gather, discuss, and prepare for this possibility and ultimate reality, and it’s a great segue to create more awareness about the world of secrecy, the world’s within our world that deal with projects the human race knows nothing about.
Lets not forget the main argument was the size of the universe, emphasizing that there are trillions of stars out there, with one in every five most likely harboring an Earth-like planet.
“In the last 50 years, evidence has steadily mounted that the components and conditions we believe necessary for life are common and perhaps ubiquitous in our galaxy. The possibility that life has arisen elsewhere, and perhaps evolved intelligence, is plausible and warrants scientific inquiry. If you extrapolate on the planets they discovered, there are a trillion planets in the galaxy. That’s a lot of places for life. We know the majority of stars have planets, but what fraction of stars have planets that are more like the earth? It might be one in five.” – Dan Shostak
Scientists are discovering billions of Earth like planets on our Milky Way galaxy alone. I’d also like to mention that planets do not have to be Earth-like in order to harbor life, that’s just what we think and assume. Who knows what type of conditions life on other planets can thrive in? Or the biological make up of an extraterrestrial life form?
Space agency announced that humanity is likely to encounter extra-terrestrials within a decade.
‘I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years,’ Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for Nasa, said.
‘We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.’
Jeffery Newmark, interim director of heliophysics at the agency, added: ‘It’s definitely not an if, it’s a when.’
‘We are not talking about little green men,’ Stofan said. ‘We are talking about little microbes.’
The announcement has been prompted by the recent discovery of water by Nasa in surprising places.
Jim Green, director of planetary science at Nasa, noted that a recent study of the Martian atmosphere found 50 per cent of the planet’s northern hemisphere once had oceans a mile deep.
The same study found that water had been present on the red planet for up to 1.2 billion year.
‘We think that long period of time is necessary for life to get more complex,’ Stofan said.
Nasa associate administrator John Grunsfeld said he is excited about seeing what form life beyond Earth may take.
‘Once we get beyond Mars, which formed from the same stuff as Earth, the likelihood that life is similar to what we find on this planet is very low,’ he said.
‘I think we’re one generation away in our solar system, whether it’s on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star.
Scientists using the Hubble recently provided powerful evidence that Jupiter’s moon Ganymede has a saltwater, sub-surface ocean, likely sandwiched between two layers of ice.
Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s satellite Enceladus are also thought to have an ocean of liquid water beneath their surface in contact with mineral-rich rock.
This, according to Nasa, means they may have the three ingredients needed for life as we know it.
‘The science community is making enormous progress,’ said Green.
‘And I’ve told my team I’m planning to be the director of planetary science when we discover life in the solar system.
At the same conference last year, Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden made a more conservative estimate.
He claimed that we will find life within the next 20 years – with a high chance it will be outside our solar system.
Nasa next Mars rover, scheduled to launch in 2020, will search for signs of past life and bring samples for a possible return to Earth for analysis.
Nasa also hopes to land astronauts on Mars in the 2030s, which Stofan says is crucial key to the search for Mars life.
‘I’m a field geologist; I go out and break open rocks and look for fossils,’ Stofan said. ‘Those are hard to find.
‘So I have a bias that it’s eventually going to take humans on the surface of Mars — field geologists, astrobiologists, chemists — actually out there looking for that good evidence of life that we can bring back to Earth for all the scientists to argue about.’
The space agency is also planning a mission to Europa, which may launch as early as 2022. It hopes to find out whether the icy moon is habitable.
Meanwhile, the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will launch in 2018 to scope out the atmospheres of nearby ‘super-Earth’ alien planets.