Science fiction writers continue to chip away at the secrets contained within the universe and often speculate on the possibility of life on other worlds and what it might look like. So who—among us Earthlings—thinks life on other planets exists?
Chances of finding life on other planets remains unknown, but research astronomer, Shawn Domagal-Goldman, said, “I want it to be there. I’ll be planning a party if we find it.” He works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and co-leads a team of exoplanet hunters.
Another NASA representative said,
Unless we get lucky, the search for signs of life could take decades. Discovering another blue-white marble hidden in the star field, like a sand grain on the beach, will probably require an even larger imaging telescope. Designs are already underway for that next-generation planet finder, to be sent aloft in the 2030s or 2040s.
Scientists are constantly searching for a planet like Earth. However, Earth as we know it today looks far different from outer space than it did billions of years ago.
Therefore, it is possible life does exist on other planets, but as grand as our telescopes are they might not be sufficient enough to detect life. And though some of the exoplanets found look promising, just like the artwork of Earth, from a distance these ever changing exoplanets—if not now perhaps in the future—may become capable of producing life.
On Earth to sustain life, we must have water and elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur. We also need sources of energy. Surprisingly, these ingredients for life appear to be almost everywhere scientists have looked in outer space. But even with our advanced technology and even bigger, far-reaching telescopes like the James Webb, the cosmos remains silent.
Our question, does life exist on other planets, remains unanswered. And we’re not talking about intelligent life but any type of life down to the smallest unit of life—a single cell.
When I polled the sci-fi google+ community, 380 science fiction lovers responded to the following question.
QUESTION: What is your vote for existence of life on other planets?
- Definitely 79%
- Maybe 13%
- Looking is a waste of time and money 5%
- Don’t think so 4%
An overwhelming majority of sci-fiers believe in the existence of life on other planets. Not a surprise. What is surprising is that 5% think it’s a waste to look and another 4% don’t think there is even the slightest possibility of life outside Earth.
What Experts Say
In 2017, the then NASA’s chief scientist, Dr. Ellen Stofan predicted, we’ll find signs of alien life within 10 years.
“I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,” she said on April 7, 2015 in Washington during a panel discussion focused on the space agency’s efforts to search for habitable worlds and alien life.
Jeffrey Newmark, NASA’s interim director of heliophysics, agrees with Stofan. “It’s definitely not an if, it’s a when,” he says.
Both of these statements echo remarks made by NASA astronomer Kevin Hand, who a year earlier in a panel discussion said. “I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe.”
The passing of those 20 to 30 years since 2015, approaches faster than any of us wanted or expected. As time races forward, perhaps we will have answers in the near future.
4 Reasons Why Life on Other Planets Is Possible
- Water is turning up on more planets.
- The sheer vastness of the universe. “It’s highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone,” Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, said.
- The discovery of more Earth-like planets gives us the prospect that life elsewhere is possible.
- The existence of extremophiles on Earth proves life finds a way.
What is your vote? Do you think there’s life on other planets—any kind of life even microbial?