Astronomers Tell Congress that Alien Life May be Found Within 20 Years
On Wednesday, May 21, Congress's Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee held hearings on the research carried out in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Presented by prominent SETI researchers Dan Wertheimer and Seth Shostak, the community's collective research showed that there are tens of billions of other planets that may be able to sustain life as well as Earth. And that's just in our galaxy; astronomers have observed at least 150 other galaxies to date, all of which would likely have a similar number of habitable planets. In light of these numbers, SETI researchers claim it is all but undeniable that there is intelligent life somewhere.
"The history of astronomy shows that every time we thought we were special we were wrong," claimed Shostak in front of the House of Representatives Subcommittee.
The astronomers further claimed that there is approximately a 1% chance that we will achieve contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life within 20 years. Most research and funding in recent years has been focused on the possibility of life on Mars and moons in the outer solar system, as well as the search for life-supporting gases, such as oxygen and methane, elsewhere in the solar system. However, the transmission of signals, such as radio, optical, or infared, has been of great interest as a potential sign of technologically advanced life. SETI researchers have placed radio telescopes all over the world and analyzed the data taken by these telescopes to look for electromagnetic emissions that would indicate another technologically advanced society other than our own. SETI researchers are currently scouring the stars within the nearest 15 light years for signs of intelligent life forms.
Although there is no definitive proof for the existence of alien life, the evidence is quickly mounting. Data taken by the Kepler telescope has shown that 70 percent of stars have their own planets, many of which orbit within their star's habitable zone which would theoretically provide temperatures conducive to the presence of liquid water. Furthermore, in August 2012, NASA's Curiosity rover discovered evidence of an ancient martian lake that may have supported microbial life.
NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars:
Andrew Siemion, a graduate student of astrophysics at UC Berkeley who helped draft Werthimer's statement, said "If we were to discover another intelligent species, it would forever change our conception of what it means to be human."