NASA: We'll find alien life in 10 to 20 years

April 8, 2015 by Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times

Are we alone in the universe? Top NASA scientists say the answer is almost certainly "no."

"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 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said at a public panel Tuesday in Washington.

"We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology," she said.

Jeffery Newmark, interim director of heliophysics at the agency put it this way: "It's definitely not an if, it's a when."

However, if visions of alien invasions are dancing in your head, you can let those go.

"We are not talking about little green men," Stofan said. "We are talking about little microbes."

Over the course of an hourlong presentation, NASA leaders described a flurry of recent discoveries that suggest we are closer than ever to figuring out where we might find life in the and beyond.

For example, Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, cited a study that analyzed the atmosphere above Mars' polar ice caps and suggests that 50 percent of the planet's northern hemisphere once had oceans up to a mile deep, and that it had that water for a long period of time - up to 1.2 billion years.

"We think that long period of time is necessary for life to get more complex," Stofan said.

She added that getting human field geologists and astrobiologists on Mars would greatly improve the chances of finding fossils of past life on our nearest planetary neighbor.

Green also described another recent study that used measurements of aurora on Jupiter's moon Ganymede to prove it has a large liquid ocean beneath its icy crust.

The findings suggest that previous ideas about where to find "habitable zones" may have been too limited. (A body considered to in a is not too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface.)

"We now recognize that habitable zones are not just around stars, they can be around giant planets too," Green said. "We are finding out the solar system is really a soggy place."

He also talked NASA's plans for a mission to Europa, another moon of Jupiter with an icy ocean.

"I don't know what we are going to find there," he said.

Newmark described how NASA is learning more about the role of Earth's magnetic field in protecting our planet's water and atmosphere from being blown away by the solar wind, thereby playing a role in the ability for life to develop.

"Mars does not have a significant magnetic field, so it lets the wind strip away the water and atmosphere," he said.

Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics at NASA, talked about how future telescopes already in the works will help scientists scan the atmospheres of large rocky planets around distant stars for chemical markers of life.

"We are not just studying water and habitability in our solar system, but also looking for it in planets around other stars," he said.

NASA associate administrator John Grunsfeld, said part of what excites him most about the search for life beyond our planet is to see what that life looks like.

"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.

Grunsfeld said he believes that life beyond Earth will be found by the next generation of scientists and space explorers, but Green said he hopes it is sooner than that.

"The science community is making enormous progress," he said. "And I've told my team I'm planning to be the director of when we discover in the solar system."

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dogbert
1.9 / 5 (22) Apr 08, 2015
Unfortunately, the prediction that we will find life elsewhere in the universe is simply wishful thinking. Assigning a probability with zero incidences is impossible, and we have found zero instances of life anywhere else but this solar system.

I hope that life is ubiquitous in the universe. But that is simply hope. It is not a belief or prediction because we have no information on which to base a probability.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (16) Apr 08, 2015
Unfortunately, the prediction that we will find life elsewhere in the universe is simply wishful thinking
Science makes predictions based on evidence, something you, as a vapid religionist, have neither any appreciation of nor respect for. But a great deal of trepidation I would assume. I suppose you learned this from king david who had the audacity to take a census and got a number of good people killed.

Scientists can use evidence to narrow their search and make discovery easier. Finding that water is ubiquitous throughout the firmament gives them increased confidence that life will be as well.

But finding that contrary evidence for the bible stories is ubiquitous throughout the holy land, while supporting evidence is completely absent, doesnt phase you in the slightest. Now why would that be?

You should take heart - there is only contrary evidence for davids great kingdom as well. So I dont think theres anything to worry about.
dogbert
2.1 / 5 (18) Apr 08, 2015
There you go preaching again, Otto.

You can't leave your religion alone for a moment, can you?
Whydening Gyre
4.4 / 5 (19) Apr 08, 2015
Unfortunately, the prediction that we will find life elsewhere in the universe is simply wishful thinking.

Nope. See the article about amine's found in a pre planet disc.
Assigning a probability with zero incidences is impossible, and we have found zero instances of life anywhere else but this solar system

Oh, like we've had the ability to find it ANYWHERE else before, you twit...
Doesn't the fact that it is HERE, mean anything?
I hope that life is ubiquitous in the universe. But that is simply hope. It is not a belief or prediction because we have no information on which to base a probability.

If you consider the fact that we find life EVERYwhere on this planet, it's a pretty safe bet is the same throughout the Universe...
Sorry, but we/you ain't all that special...
dogbert
1.8 / 5 (16) Apr 08, 2015
If you consider the fact that we find life EVERYwhere on this planet, it's a pretty safe bet is the same throughout the Universe...


That fact that life has spread everywhere on this planet says nothing about the probability that life has developed anywhere else.

Sorry, but we/you ain't all that special...


You don't know that since you don't know the probability of life developing anywhere else. And you cannot assign that probability in the absence of information about life somewhere else.
verkle
Apr 08, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
KBK
2.1 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2015
If the logic of NASA is applicable, if what they say is functional regarding our emergent capacities and resources (and there is no reason to believe otherwise).... then the next domino to fall in that chain of logic says:

.....Some other life in this universe has already found ~US~. Long ago.

You can't have one component of the chain of logic and not have the next. Logic says that you cannot arbitrarily be (emotionally) selective in the rumination of the potentials.

Thus, via straightforward logic in potentials, they ('other') are already here.

The next question is, logically, "why don't you know of their presence?"

This is not difficult logic, it is all laid out in black and white, all the points in basis are cleanly and clearly out there......but it may be uncomfortable, for some. The kind of uncomfortableness that breaches logic function, in their minds.
foolspoo
4.1 / 5 (13) Apr 09, 2015
Such a classical argument of wit, deception, and ironic hypocrisy. Good pooch

Verkle, many believe we are very soon to stumble upon other worldly life. We havent explored but a neglible fraction of mars, and this disqualifies the solar system?

Shamefully, the american government has allocated more than 1% of the federal budget to NASA only a few times in the last 40 years.
Osiris1
3 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2015
we need to get out there in a real ship, not some artillery shell destined to be some poor cosmonaut/astronaut's sarcophagus! By real, it is meant that the ship have independent maneuvering capability and do not use petroleum/kerosene...any aliphatic hydrocarbon, etc. More rather use propulsions that are safe to store and very parsimonious in use, like the solar electric thrusters, plasma thrusters, solar sails, nuclear electric or nuclear plasma(VASIMR with nuclear reactors with alpha<=1)..or solar VASIMR close in system. For example, the solar sail demonstrator IKAROUS deployed by JAXA did a very speedy flyby of Venus...only some days. A little further out is the Focus Fusion machine from Dr Lerner's lab in New Jersey. It is a natural fusion rocket that generates electricity directly by magnetoelectrodynamics.....some say magnetoelectrohydrodynamics but I say water has nothing to do with it because it uses Hydrogen-boron fusion when it is done. My money is on Dr Lerner's fusion
jsdarkdestruction
4.4 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2015
NASA: Makes bold prediction to secure funding for fruitless projects for the next 20 years.

Note to NASA: Please don't use my tax money on such projects. It is a waste of time. Use my money to explore the solar system, Pluto, and beyond? Absolutely! But not on these strange endeavors.

A final note: I do believe there is Life out there. But not in the places where you are looking.


Verkle, sending things to look around and take measurements like curiosity on mars are solar system exploration. Do you really think that the only thing looked at is if there is life or not? Or did you do what you normally do and don't actually read much beyond the title of the article?

What do you base your belief in life elsewhere in the universe? Where should we be looking? How do you know about where we should look? Please avoid words like "god" "bible" "creator" "atheist" "evolutionists".
Skepticus_Rex
2.4 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2015
Given that NASA scientists also predicted an ice-free Arctic by 2013, and that didn't happen, I advise not holding one's breath waiting for this prediction to come to pass anytime soon.
antialias_physorg
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 09, 2015
I find such predictions rather worthless. Seems like a naive attempt at creating some PR hype. That the tech is available doesn't allow us to make a prediction, since we have no clue how prevalent life is or isn't.

It's like saying "we have an unobtainium detector, so we are going detect unobtainium" without knowing how rare unobtainum is.
foolspoo
5 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2015
Skepticus, i recall that. a gentleman said "could" based on the irrefutable accelerated rate that was observed. a sentence turned into a global PR nightmare because of the populous' inability to comprehend. there were no predictions, there were no claims. there was a "could"
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2015
There you go preaching again, Otto.

You can't leave your religion alone for a moment, can you?
Your religionist preaching is implicit in most everything you post. Even when you don't explicitly state it, you convey a distrust of scientific enquiry which stems directly from your superstitious beliefs. I find this irrational attitude offensive as I know that it threatens science and progress and world peace and our continued existence,

And so no, I can't leave it alone. Not for a moment.

Note how Verkle (and aa) continues to draw conclusions where none are warranted. You all START from your conclusion that god is the reason for everything. This is anathema to science. This ENDANGERS science.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2015
I find such predictions rather worthless. Seems like a naive attempt at creating some PR hype. That the tech is available doesn't allow us to make a prediction, since we have no clue how prevalent life is or isn't.

It's like saying "we have an unobtainium detector, so we are going detect unobtainium" without knowing how rare unobtainum is.
Speculation enables scientists to narrow their search. What you're saying in effect is 'we shouldn't be wasting our time building an LHC because we don't know if the Higgs exists or not.'

But evidence-based theories helped to narrow and define the specific parameters of that machine, which made the search and discovery possible.
standfast18
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2015
Perhaps a suggestion is in order: What type of life are we talking about?
shavera
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2015
Others above mention the Fermi Paradox (if indirectly): "If life exists, why haven't they gotten in touch with us already?"

I'd just like to remind that
1) Space is freaking huge. And really empty.
2) Signals degrade over distance. Intensities fall off with roughly 1/r^2 behaviour.
3) It really doesn't seem like anything can go faster than light

If we simply accept that physics is telling us a pretty straightforward account of how the universe *is*, namely that, aside from some small and rare phenomena, there isn't much magic left to find... that c is a true limit on information, that there's no magic 'subspace' to message through... Then it's quite possible that all civilizations are limited to, maybe at most, a few star systems.

If physics as we observe it to be is true... it simply may not be realistic to travel or communicate between civilizations. That's not a wild assumption to make, really. And the conclusion is what we observe pretty well too.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2015
To suppose this is the only planet/place with life is to make a statement about a measurable quantity known as density, saying that it is vanishingly small. Yet it is easy to show that this density hasn't been adequately measured, as the article and comments allude to.

To say that there is an "absence of evidence" is to ignore the abundance of it in the form of observations here pertaining to the diversity in form, metabolic processes, and range of environmental conditions. It is also ignorant of the observed invariance of physical laws from fundamental and elemental scales to galactic and universal scales.
foolspoo
1 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2015
The fermi paradox is an embarrassment to an otherwise remarkable career
Gdrg22
1 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2015
I find such predictions rather worthless. Seems like a naive attempt at creating some PR hype. That the tech is available doesn't allow us to make a prediction, since we have no clue how prevalent life is or isn't.

It's like saying "we have an unobtainium detector, so we are going detect unobtainium" without knowing how rare unobtainum is.
Speculation enables scientists to narrow their search. What you're saying in effect is 'we shouldn't be wasting our time building an LHC because we don't know if the Higgs exists or not.'

But evidence-based theories helped to narrow and define the specific parameters of that machine, which made the search and discovery possible.


im sorry but the LHC was built to find out if the mathematical predictions of the higgs boson were correct not based on speculations.
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 09, 2015
Hmm.. 20 years to "discover" the Earth life they have inadvertently taken to Mars.
Baruch
1 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2015
"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,

She sounds so much like a prophet on TV!

It might also happen the way she predicts if we keep on sending unmanned spacecraft into the solar system that land on various planets or bodies.

Sooner rather than later contamination will happen despite the precautions - we've seen these kinds of accidents happen all too frequently in all of our engineering endeavours.

Now just to add some spice to the mix - if we find water, it's highly unlikely that we'll find life for the simple reason that water acts strongly to disassociate the very molecules required for life!

So in order to assemble spontaneously all the components required for even the simplest of life forms, water will need to be absent! A very challenging conundrum indeed.

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2015
sorry but the LHC was built to find out if the mathematical predictions of the higgs boson were correct not based on speculations
"What Philip Anderson realized and worked out in the summer of 1962 was that, when you have both gauge symmetry and spontaneous symmetry breaking, the Nambu–Goldstone massless mode can combine with the massless gauge field modes to produce a physical massive vector field. This is what happens in superconductivity, a subject about which Anderson was (and is) one of the leading experts... The Higgs mechanism is a process by which vector bosons can get rest mass without explicitly breaking gauge invariance, as a byproduct of spontaneous symmetry breaking..."

-Experimental evidence leads to math theories which in turn lead to the search for more evidence. Which is what the LHC was designed to do, along very specific lines based on predictions derived from theory.

"Speculation: the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence."
Gdrg22
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2015
an your quote mentioning physicist anderson just proves the european nations spent billions based in his speculation

¬¬
KBK
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2015
If the logic of NASA is applicable, if what they say is functional regarding our emergent capacities and resources (and there is no reason to believe otherwise).... then the next domino to fall in that chain of logic says:
.....Some other life in this universe has already found ~US~. Long ago.
You can't have one component of the chain of logic and not have the next. Logic says that you cannot arbitrarily be (emotionally) selective in the rumination of the potentials.
Thus, via straightforward logic in potentials, they ('other') are already here.
The next question is, logically, "why don't you know of their presence?"
This is not difficult logic, it is all laid out in black and white, all the points in basis are cleanly and clearly out there......but it may be uncomfortable, for some. The kind of uncomfortableness that breaches logic function, in their minds.

More data/articles:
"Our Sun came late to the Milky Way's star-birth party"
"The Solar System is Awash in Water"

KBK
1 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2015
Then add in the plus 5 million Unidentified object sightings per year, which cannot all be in error, many from professionals who observe for a living, military, and so on.

The list of well documented sightings and occurrences that cannot be dismissed get into the tens of thousands. happening over centuries, if the data collecting goes back far enough.

The evidence is overwhelming... it is the cognitive dissonance that is at fault here, not the logic or the data.

All a person has to do is turn...and investigate with a nose for honesty - not a nose to satisfy fears (of deep change) and emotions.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2015
To say that there is an "absence of evidence" is to ignore the abundance of it in the form of observations here pertaining to the diversity in form

All, probably, started from the same origin (at least the universal handedness of certain molecules in biological life on Earth and the common reliance on RNA/DNA is a strong indicator that there is a common ancestor.).

So we have one data point for life
One data point does not a trend make.

Currently the only thing about life out there, that we can say with confidence, is: we don't know how prevalent it is.
The only thing we DO know is that it is possible to have life. Any other predictions (like how soon we'll find extraterrestrial life or what it will look like) are baseless speculations.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2015
It is nice that NASA once again (like for Seager's space telescopes) outlines what we should expect of the global science & exploration strategy. The NASA (their Hubbard, really) instigated "find the water" has been immensely fruitful. It is the water and now organics finds on Mars, as well as the alkaline hydrothermal vents of Enceladus, including two fossil candidates already (MISS and possibly fatty acids), that prompts this.

Seager mentioned the statistics of how the next generation of telescopes may, if we are lucky, find exoplanet biosignatures (a decade), or if we are unlucky with the 2nd gen (2 decades). This is based solely on the frequency of habitables and the expected ease of life emergence, it emerged early on Earth.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2015
@dogbert, antialias: "Assigning a probability with zero incidences is impossible"; "One data point ... baseless speculations".

That is your opinion. But it doesn't check with the facts. What we are looking for are constraints on emergence such as habitability and ease of emergence. Both have been established here, were we have a much explored type case, and elsewhere.

Even your claims on statistics are arguable. If we model emergence as a statistical process, of attempts say, the single example of Earth is enough to test that emergence has be a frequent and successful process. (Plausibly there are several ways, but the 'fittest' would tend to win.)

There is a funny thing about processes, because they can be controlled, as opposed to statistical observations of quasi-static distributions. And we only need _one sample_ to have informative control. (Of deviance from the mean, say.)
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2015
This is based solely on the frequency of habitables and the expected ease of life emergence, it emerged early on Earth.

1) We don't know the frequency of habitables. We know there area lot of rocky places out there, but we don't even know what makes a habitable zone and what doesn't. It could be far easier to have life (e.g. in subsurface oceans far out from stars or on bodies that don't even orbit suns) - or it could be very restrictive to just that right set of conditions. We don't know.
2) The early emergence on Earth is no indication either way. It could have been a fluke. It could be that early emergence is the norm. It's one data point and from that no extrapolation is possible.

It's like rolling a black-box die and coming up with a 413. What does that tell us? Is 413 the only number on the die? How many sides does the die have? All you can tell from one such throw is that the probability for 413 is not zero.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2015
That is your opinion. But it doesn't check with the facts.

No. That is just basic statistics. That's just how math works.
To put probabilities on something you need data. If you have no data (or just one data point) then you can't assign probabilities. There is no valid statistical method that will let you get around this.
Doing it in spite of this is just baseless speculation/PR hype.

(Plausibly there are several ways, but the 'fittest' would tend to win.)

Again: we have - as yet - no datapoints for this. When someone finds the fossils of an alternate lifeform/lifeline that looks like a separate origin then we'd have something. Currently we don't.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2015
@shavera, foolspo: "Fermi Paradox", " an embarrassment".

Let me sigh, because this is one of pet peeves. Sigh. Oy, sigh. =D

The name is a mislabel, because Fermi put out a question and later others first put it as a 'paradox' (it isn't, which Fermi well knew) and then named _that_. Luckily, there is a fresh post on this:

"Beyond "Fermi's Paradox" II: Questioning the Hart-Tipler Conjecture ... This is the argument that has come to be known as "Fermi's paradox". The problem is, as we saw in the first installment, Fermi never made it. ...

Fermi didn't doubt that extraterrestrial civilizations might exist, but supposed that interstellar travel wasn't feasible or that alien travelers had simply never found Earth in the vastness of the galaxy. ...

The argument claiming that extraterrestrials don't exist was actually proposed by the astronomer Michael Hart, in a paper he published in 1975. ...

[tbctd]
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2015
[ctd]

Hart's argument was extended by cosmologist Frank Tipler in 1980. ...

Why is it important that Hart's argument wasn't really also formulated by the eminent Enrico Fermi? Because Fermi's name lends a credibility to the argument that it might not deserve. ...

Hart drew public policy consequences from his argument that extraterrestrials don't exist. His paper concluded that "an extensive search for radio messages from other civilizations is probably a waste of time and money"."
[ http://www.univer...jecture/ ]

So when you see 'Fermi's paradox, think "Fermi's Question" [to distinguish it from Fermi questions, his successful tactical questions probing science] and/or "Hart-Tipler Conjecture".
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2015
@antialias: Your claim of "basic statistics" and "how math works" doesn't apply for two reasons, as I already shown. This is hence still your opinion on what can be done. But we are doing it differently, see NASA's press conferences, say. There is also a solid bunch of papers on emergence statistics. [See Lineweaver, say: http://www.mso.an...ons.html ]

"Again: we have - as yet - no datapoints for this."

We have two plausible pathways from phylogeny, Szostak's protocells and Russell's vents. That the fittest wins is demonstrated in evolution, and we have plenty of data on that. The best among science in fact, if we look on statistical power of phylogenetics.

"When someone finds the fossils of an alternate lifeform/lifeline that looks like a separate origin then we'd have something."

We have millions of fossils and, better, genomes, that tell of a single origin. That is solid data.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2015
This will be another Hollywood production. They will find all that is expected from them by the governments. It is simple.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2015
I can find half a dozen other reasons that extraterrestrial life exists but isn't obvious to us. But that has the same problem as this argument:
We have two plausible pathways from phylogeny

Plausible theories do not data points make.

To make predictions that carry any kind of weight you need EXPERIMENTAL data. A theory without data is just a hypothesis. And the number of possible hypotheses without data are infinite. Basing any kind of real-world prediction/prognostication on a total lack of data is just not scientific. (and not even mathematical)

Note: I am NOT saying that extraterrestrial life doesn't exist. We are here, so life is clearly possible. I am saying we have no clue as to how prevalent it is and no data to back up any kind of numbers on that one way or the other (and no valid way to estimate). Without such a basis a statement like "we'll find it in 10 years" is simply pulling numbers out of one's behind. That's not a good way to do science.
KBK
not rated yet Apr 10, 2015
^^^^

You are proposing logic based on something. The something is a nebulous backdrop that, from your tone and proposition, is supposed to be perfect and of utmost integrity. ie, unassailable and perfect.... of a specific rigor, an unbreachable rigor, a rigor that should never be questioned.

Thus, if we look more than the one step into your proposition.. two or three steps deeper, we find flaw.

The flaw found is one of exploration and question/answer lockdown --ie, sternly forbidden proposition and forbidden exploration.

The problem with your emoted and projected backdrop in your premise... is that open exploration in multiple quarters, in multiple undisciplined directions, is what brings new things to the world. Rigor as control in what and how you propose...... is what kills. Your deeper projection...is that you want to control, defeat or kill the disruptors.

This is why I downvote any comment you make, as your proposed rigor/commonsense..is actually a kill shot.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Apr 10, 2015
What? Would you mind rephrasing that in correct english? Your post makes absolutely no sense.
(And being a bit less nebulous might be a good idea, too...like bringing forth an actual argument. My argument is: One data point does not allow for a prediction. And anyone who has taken an introductory course in statistics will agree with me on this. I am making absolutely no pronouncement on whether there is or isn't life out there. At current the only thing we can say from the AVAILANLE data is: we don't know, and if there is life we don't know when we'll know where it is.)
jposterman
not rated yet Apr 10, 2015
An advanced species on an exo-world will certain produce CO2 and leave other detectable "footprints" that we might be able to observe.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet Apr 11, 2015
@AA, my statement was predicated on quantum mechanics insofar as there is no postulate or physical law or combination of them that negates the -possibility- of life, or prevents it from occurring. Hence any meaningful application of statistics is necessarily a statement about rarity (rather than possibilities), and for that, our data (1 point as you say) is sorely lacking.
william_holt
not rated yet Apr 11, 2015
Of course, I believe that we are not alone. However, I don't believe NASA has any idea about what they are talking about. This is just a PR, headline-grabber story, much like the martian asteroid in the 90's that supposedly claimed proof that life existed elsewhere. That was helpful for NASA's funding, and so is this, so I don't blame them for making such proclamations.

If there is no life found in the next 20 years, that still doesn't change the fact that we are most likely not alone in the Universe. Not finding life nearby also doesn't mean that we won't find evidence of life in one of the sub-surface oceans of Saturn's or Jupiter's moons.

It's too bad that they can't make statements like, "The odds are better than they have ever been that *if* life is out there in our solar system, we will be able to detect it".

The NASA statement presumes that life will be where we look for it. That's a pretty presumptuous, non-scientific statement meant for attention only.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2015
Is the star stuff of which we're composed in any way, shape or form more special or unique than the star stuff scattered across the cosmos? As mentioned, the universe is waaay huge. Even here, life is abundant and diverse and adapting and evolving.
kminotaur32
3 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2015
I see the religious cultists have come out of the wood work.
Religious cultists care not about evidence. Never-Never land is their home. :)
The religious cultists keep bringing up the fact that scientists have not found life.
Why have we not found life? Because it takes a little more technology than what we have at this moment.
We can detect the gases in the atmosphere (if there is one). We can also read the colors that gases emit when they burn in atmospheres. It's called spectroscopy. The technology has been around for a long time.
kminotaur32
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2015


Currently the only thing about life out there, that we can say with confidence, is: we don't know how prevalent it is.
The only thing we DO know is that it is possible to have life. Any other predictions (like how soon we'll find extraterrestrial life or what it will look like) are baseless speculations.


No. It's not just speculation. In fact, there's a lot of evidence that says life exists everywhere.
We found organic molecules in a nebulae last week.
We found the ingredients on many meteorites that have crashed landed.
NASA actually left a bunch of microorganisms exposed to the cold vacuum of space, and some of them lived.
Need I go on?
eric_in_chicago
not rated yet Apr 12, 2015
Practice enough meditation and you can determine if there are other people in the universe for yourself.

You won't be able to easily prove it to others, of course.

Does that make you mentally ill or does it make you aware of what makes crazy people crazy?
dogbert
not rated yet Apr 12, 2015
kminotaur32,
I see the religious cultists have come out of the wood work.
Religious cultists care not about evidence. Never-Never land is their home. :)
The religious cultists keep bringing up the fact that scientists have not found life.


Why do you frequent a science site to spout unprovoked anti-religious nonsense?

Why would you think someone who is religious would not want to find life?

Why do you think it is valid to estimate a probability based on a single point? Have you ever taken a course in statistics or probability?
someone11235813
not rated yet Apr 12, 2015
Are we alone in the universe? Top NASA scientists say the answer is almost certainly "no."


All the 'top' NASA scientists? or some of them. What about the 'bottom' scientists. The above sentence already reeks. It should read...Some scientists, have a strong belief that life exists elsewhere in the Universe. Great, it's just a belief though and the actual evidence for 'life' is zero.

The Universe may be teeming with life, or Earth may be the only planet, or our Galaxy may be the only galaxy with life, or our Universe may be the only universe with life. While the conditions for life are certainly common to a particular extent, life itself is a complete and utter mystery as to how it actually got going.

Further, the fact that the Earth is teeming with life should be evidence against it's commonality because with such good conditions, it only ever got going one single time. The most extraordinary thing about life on Earth is 'All Life Is One' It only happened once
foolspoo
not rated yet Apr 14, 2015
Thanks for the correction, Larsson. I've only had passing discussions regarding fermi and was entirely unaware of his positions.

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