These are the places that (most likely) host alien life

These are the places that (most likely) host alien life
A comparison of the habitable zone of our solar system with the Kepler-22 system. Credit: NASA

Not too cold, not too hot—the conditions for life are found not just on Earth, but on a handful of other places out in the universe.

We Earthlings are a really lucky bunch. Our planet is located in just the right spot in our Solar System. We're not too close to the Sun, like Mercury or Venus, where the average temperature can reach more than 400°C. It's not too far away, either, like Jupiter or Saturn, where it can get really cold—way under 140°C.

But our planet is not the only one with such ideal conditions. A bunch of other and moons are also found in the so-called habitable zone or Goldilocks zone. Planets or moons located in the Goldilocks zone are at the right distance from their star so that they're not too hot and not too cold—just like Baby Bear's porridge in the fairy tale. Their overall temperature is just right for the formation of , a landmark of life.

Of course, it is not just about being "in the zone". Mars, for example, is found within the habitable zone of our system, and we have yet to find the first Martians.

Also, being in the habitable zone doesn't mean they actually have water, but they could. These potentially habitable planets need to meet other requirements to be able to host some sort of life, like having an atmosphere, being a rocky planet (and not one made up of gas) and having the right mix of chemical compounds needed by living organisms.

Is there life out there?

This question has been in the mind of people for aeons, and maybe now we are finally close to getting an answer. Several celestial bodies, either planets or their moons, have been identified as potential candidates to host life.

Some are planets around the same size of Earth, orbiting a star much like our own Sun. Others are called super-Earth planets and are as large as 45 times the size of Earth.

The most famous of these planets, arguably, is Mars, which made some big news recently when it was confirmed it hosts a vast amount of water just beneath its surface. The finding, according to experts, means that Mars could one day allow for the establishment of a human colony and perhaps even allow some other lifeforms to exist.

Water ice discovered beneath Mars surface. Credit: BEYOND SCIENCE

"Certainly on Earth, we find life associated with big ice sheets. So it doesn't actually have to be liquid water in which life can exist, and it would be very interesting to look at where these ice scarps are melting," Simon George, at Macquarie University, said.

"[The melting ice could] potentially expose new bits of ice and possibly be a very interesting place to look for new evidence of life, either in the recent geological past or even living today on Mars," George added in a recent news report.

Beyond Mars, another place where scientists are pouring their hopes are the moons from a big planet.

Life on a moon

Saturn, one of the largest planets of our solar system, has 62 moons, some of which are tiny moonlets just 1km in diameter. Others are larger than some planets, like the Titan, nearly half the size of Earth.

One of Saturn's moons has been the focus of attention among extraterrestrial life hunters: Enceladus. Here, scientists have discovered vast oceans of water, buried 30 to 40 kilometres beneath the planet's surface, which is covered in ice and snow and where temperatures reach -198°C, at noon! The Cassini space probe revealed the existence of all the vital ingredients for life in these oceans: carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen.

"I think this is it. From an astrobiology point of view, this is the most interesting story," said Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA in a recent news report.

Saturn is not the only planet with a moon that potentially hosts life. Jupiter's moon Europa has been a target for exploration since the 1960s.

Made famous by the book (and movie) 2001: A Space Odyssey, Europa has an ocean of liquid water lurking beneath a layer of ice 15 to 20 kilometres deep. At least two future NASA projects plan to explore this moon in more detail.

These are the places that (most likely) host alien life
Jupiter’s moon Europa could potentially host life. Credit: NASA

Europa Clipper and Juice, both planned to launch some time in 2020, will make detailed studies of the surface of Jupiter and three of its moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

Life beyond our Solar System

Other stellar systems that host potentially habitable planets have been identified in the past years.

Just last year, a study reported the existence of a possible super-Earth planet, about 41 light years away from Earth. The planet, named LHS 1140b, is 1.4 times the size of Earth and twice as dense and is found within the habitable zone of its star system.

"This is the most exciting exoplanet I've seen in the past decade," said lead author Jason Dittmann of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in a press release.

"We could hardly hope for a better target to perform one of the biggest quests in science—searching for evidence of life beyond Earth."

However, nothing yet is known about the inner components of this planet.

"Right now, we're just making educated guesses about the content of this planet's atmosphere," said Jason.

"Future observations might enable us to detect the atmosphere of a potentially habitable planet for the first time. We plan to search for water, and, ultimately, molecular oxygen."

These are the places that (most likely) host alien life
An artist’s impression of LHS 1140b and its host star. Credit: M. WEISS/CFA

The planet 1140b was discovered through the MEarth project, which seeks to identify Earth-like planets. Besides 1140b, the MEarth project has so far discovered two other Earth-like planets, GJ1132b, and GJ1214b.

Another stellar system that has revealed the existence of potentially habitable planets is called TRAPPIST-1. The system, 39 light years from our planet, is located in the constellation Aquarius, and recent observations have revealed the existence of at least seven small planets orbiting the central star of this system. Out of these seven, three planets are found in the habitable zone.

"This is an amazing planetary system, not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to the Earth!" said Michaël Gillon, at the University of Liège in Belgium, who led the 2016 study, in a press release.

Two of these planets, TRAPPIST-1b and TRAPPIST-1c, were further studied and are likely to be rocky planets, like Earth, which makes them even better candidates for hosting life.

Other potentially habitable planets have been identified by NASA's Kepler space telescope. One of these planets, Kepler-452b, is located in the constellation Cygnus, with a star very similar to our own sun. The planet is about 60% larger than Earth, but whether it is a rocky planet or if it contains liquid water is still a mystery.

"We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth's evolving environment," said Jon Jenkins, from NASA's Ames Research Center, in an official press release.

"It's awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the of its star; longer than Earth. That's substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet," he added.

Life as we know it

But how do you really know if a planet can host some sort of life? Until you actually find some alien life form, it is all really theoretical. But now, a new study just published found solid evidence that one species of microorganism could survive in Saturn's moon Enceladus.

These are the places that (most likely) host alien life
Interior of Enceladus, showing it's liquid water ocean. Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH

The compounds found in Enceladus, such as methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen, can be either produced or used for growth by microorganisms.

In this new study, researchers managed to grow microorganisms under the gas and pressure conditions thought to be present in Enceladus. Researchers found one survivor: a microorganism capable, in theory, of surviving in Enceladus, even under the presence of nasty compounds that would inhibit the growth of other life.

"The microorganism Methanothermococcus okinawensis thrives and produces methane under conditions similar to those found in Saturn's icy moon Enceladus," says Simon Rittmann, at the University of Vienna, who led the new study.

Furthermore, researchers identified a geological process known as serpentinisation, which might produce enough hydrogen for the survival of some kind of lifeform on Enceladus.

The findings support the idea that certain microorganisms can thrive in Enceladus and be responsible for some of the methane detected in this moon.

But will we ever find some sort of intelligent life? Some scientists think so, and the reason is simple: odds are on our side, sort of.

It is a big, big universe with trillions of planets and stars, and we already know many moons and planets very like Earth have the right conditions for life as we know it. So why not?

"In the search for life in the Solar System and beyond, the physiological capabilities of several organisms found on Earth that live or survive under extreme environmental conditions make it likely that, somewhere in the universe, alien life could exist . It could be possible that we might find just a doorstep away," says Simon.


Explore further

Life on other planets could be far more widespread, study finds

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This article first appeared on Particle, a science news website based at Scitech, Perth, Australia. Read the original article.

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Mar 16, 2018
"... and we already know many moons and planets very like Earth have the right conditions for life as we know it. ..."

Really? We know this as an incontrovertible fact? Without confirming physical evidence? Ignoring all the possibilities of other means to replicate the SMALL body of data we have to date.

I grew up being indoctrinated with the same comicbooks and cartoons, TV shows and cinema F/x, as the rest of you.

It is a BIG disappointment that our fiction has failed to match the facts. Truly, I would not be amiss if my pessimism was to be proven wrong.

To accomplish rubbing my nose in my own despair? We need to continue developing our sciences and technology. Don't worry, still plenty of disagreements to argue over how to accomplish that.

My concern now is, a Public conditioned by 15 second commercials for instant gratification. Will not have the patience to support scientific development for the long, slow, arduous effort to achieve future goals.

"But will we ever find some sort of intelligent life? Some scientists think so, and the reason is simple: odds are on our side, sort of."

And some other scientists know that intelligent life has long found us:
https://www.amazo...30050456
https://www.youtu...qBvBZOqg

Mar 17, 2018
and we already know many moons and planets very like Earth have the right conditions for life as we know it.


We see what apppears to be a solid continuum of planetary conditions and infer vast numbers of planets. There is no statistical basis for concluding anything other than many of these planets have the right conditions for life as we know it. I am not sure how much certainty rrwillsj requires, but this is the logical conclusion based on what we know.

Otherwise, I am having trouble interpreting rrwillsj's rambling comment.

Mar 17, 2018
Conjecture, speculation, postulations, guesstimates, hypothesis, assumptions, spiritual seance, intoxicated hallucinations, imagination, fantasies, fictions, belief.

None of the above are proof of anything. To quote "If it is real? It will bite you. If it is false? It will fascinate you."

You might want to consider the original meaning of the term 'fascinate'. Just to compare against the meaning of "factual evidence".

Mar 18, 2018
Conjecture, speculation, postulations, guesstimates, hypothesis, assumptions, spiritual seance, intoxicated hallucinations, imagination, fantasies, fictions, belief.


So you are fed up with all that? Good! You want real, definitive answers, not conjecture that may be wrong. Good! When you think this through, you should conclude there is no substitute for exploring space to get those answers for ourselves. We need to boldly go where no one has gone before!

Mar 18, 2018
It's going to be a long time before we can get probes to these exo-Earths. Certainly hundreds of years even if we start now.

We should be able to look for some signatures that we expect if there is Earth-like life on them once we have the JWST launched, but this will not be certainty. We'll at least have to send automated probes to know for sure.

Mar 18, 2018
DS, I agree with your assessment. And I even sort of agree with MT.

We do need(or at least, want) to engage in space exploration. MT, what do you suggest that would accomplish your goal of Human space exploration?

Myself? I think it will be robots and drones. All the way, when we consider present technology.

Wanting space travel survivable for Humans is several magnitudes beyond what is possible now or even in the foreseeable future.

You want short-cuts to centuries of expensive effort? Then you should be mentoring young STEM students. Encouraging them to create new ideas and develop those into new technologies beyond anything that we have now.

If some young genius makes a break through? You will have to prepared for major resistance from mature industries fearing obsolescence. Their political stooges will have to be overcome by convincing the Public to accept the need to social change and paying the bills that will accrue. Both financial and in Human lives.

Mar 18, 2018
These are the places that (most likely) host alien life:
Erra (Plejares System)
Timar (DAL Universe)
Deron (Vega System)
Sater (Lyra System)
Deneb (Cygnus System)
Druan (Nol System)
Njsan (Lyra System)
Askal (Plejares System)
Luseta (Plejares System)
Bardan (Coma Galaxy)
Sonara (DAL-Universe)


Mar 18, 2018


"... and we already know many moons and planets very like Earth have the right conditions for life as we know it. ..."

Really? We know this as an incontrovertible fact?


Yes, we know places where extremophiles can survive. See the article.

And some other scientists know that intelligent life ...


Nit: they don't *know* that, obviously. And an IT manager and a photographer - first link - are random authors, not scientists.

Besides, it is too unlikely to be even scientifically interesting.


Mar 18, 2018
t_b_g_l, as the following article points out... There are places, even on the Earth's surface that are uninhabitable by even the most determined of extremophiles. In an environment closest to what, to date, we have observed on Mars.
https://phys.org/...tml#nRlv

And consider. Venus, Earth/Luna. Mars. Only one of those worlds has a (temporarily) thriving biosphere. After billions of years.

Repeating myself, I hope my pessimism will eventually be proven wrong.

However my skepticism warns that whatever claims are made to discovering Non-Terrestrial Derived Lifeforms? Will most likely turn out to be career-crushing mistakes or outright wishful fraud.

And that concerns me. If the Public discovers they are being played for fools? They will not forgive and well might cut-off Public funding for all scientific endeavors!

Mar 18, 2018
MT, what do you suggest that would accomplish your goal of Human space exploration?


I believe the answer is deceptively simple. We keep moving forward and continue exploring as far and as long as we can. Our scientific, technological and economic base has been sufficient to reach the moon for nearly 50 years. Similarly, we probably could have reached Mars since the 1980s, if it were similarly prioritized. We are ready for Mars now, and there is every reason to believe we will be able to explore the solar system. All we need to do is keep going.

My guess is the people who finally develop a warp drive will be the ones who have already explored the entire solar system. These people will have overcome many challenges, probably be more sophisticated than us in every way, and will be ready. We are not ready for interstellar travel, but we are ready to take the next step and it is imperative that we do so. It is that simple.

Dear Torbjorn,
A question: did you bother to watch the YouTube-video clip first or just in an animal reflex-like fashion dislike, what you don't want to be true?

Mar 18, 2018
Myself? I think it will be robots and drones.


If all we were trying to accomplish was gain knowledge, you might be right. But if we never get out there ourselves, I don't see much of a point. Robots and drones should complement human exploration, not try to replace it.

I am forced to acknowledge that a great many people would agree with you. Maybe this is what happens when exploration stalls for so long. When you let nearly a half century go by and the 6 moon landings we had are so far behind us that most people can't remember it because they were born after it. To say we have lost momentum would be a huge understatement.

Mar 18, 2018
rrwillsj, thinking about your question . . . It is like you are an out of shape couch potato asking me when you will be ready for an iron man competition. My answer is get off your lazy butt and see if you run a few miles first. If some day, many years from now, you are able run marathons successfully, can swim and bike for hours, then we can talk about that first iron man competition.

Right now you want interstellar travel, but we can even reach the goddamn moon, again. Your grandparents with their slide rules and shitty 1960s technology are kicking our collective asses, big time.


Mar 19, 2018
MT, I'm not sure where you came up with a cartoon character as an issue?

What you are failing to face up to, is that there is absolutely no evidence that humans can survive, thrive, reproduce and raise to adults outside of the Earth's magnetosphere and one gravity field.

That empirical evidence, confirmed and verified, does not exist!

A mature response would be "How do we gain such knowledge?"

That is where those robots and drones come in. To systematically gather this System's resources. To construct (i.e. bootstrap) the infrastructure that will be needed to support attempts at Human's expanding across this System.

In other words; first catch that damn horse you want to have pulling your cart!

Mar 19, 2018
What you are failing to face up to, is that there is absolutely no evidence that humans can survive, thrive, reproduce and raise to adults outside of the Earth's magnetosphere and one gravity field
Well theres no evidence you know what youre talking about. Regarding pretty much anything you post about willis.

But its really tacky for self-absorbed noobs like yourself to be questioning actual scientists about sciency things like evidence and theory.

Knowuttahmean?

Mar 19, 2018
there is absolutely no evidence that humans can survive, thrive, reproduce


rrwillsj, how can you ignore that fact that nobody has even been beyond LEO since 1972, so there is no evidence either way? Once again, I am telling you the answer is to keep moving forward and continue exploring as far and as long as we can. Why should you believe this answer, you might ask. Because this is always the right answer!

Just because you can't see the whole path to the stars doesn't mean we should give up now. We can reach at least one other planet, i.e., Mars, so our path goes through Mars. It doesn't matter if we go back to the moon or chase a few NEOs around first, at some point our path goes through Mars. If we give up and do nothing, we accomplish nothing. Another way of saying this is nothing ventured, nothing gained. It seems hardly worth saying it is so obvious. The whiny, ill-conceived reasons people come up with to avoid the obvious and do nothing is astounding.

OK, on the time to invest for determining if we had already been visited by non-terrestrial intelligences: I acknowledge that dedicating 24 minutes of valuable life time for watching a video might be asking too much.

So, what about investing only 5 minutes for reading an open letter from January by the retired investigator of the US Airforce Office of Special Investigations Joe Tysk, sharing with you his findings of recent own investigation of the Meier case? His reasoning is easy to follow:

https://theyflybl...ase-real
http://www.meiers...sman.jpg

Mar 19, 2018
MT, you are still missing that your ladder to Mars will be built by robots and drones. Wanting to be a comicbook hero is a rather dubious ambition.

Don't know why you want to get stuck on that failed planetoid, Mars? Nothing there that isn't easier to access among the asteroids. Or for strategic transit, Callisto.

ottoknowuhattamean. Well I do but obviously for you? Your mouth opens and stupid flows out.

The lack of evidence, both for and against our conjectures, is exactly my complaint.

These questions necessitate a thoroughly methodical application of Sigma principles in developing the technology to safely advance Human travel beyond Earth.

Far, far away, is no time to discover "Oopps, we didn't prepare for that failing." With the last person competent to fix it, freeze-drying in a bodybag.

This message is brought to you by the New Jamestown Mining Corporation of the New Roanoke Colony, Mars.

Our proud motto: "Failure is not an option. But an occupation!"

Mar 20, 2018
Hey willis
you are still missing that your ladder to Mars will be built by robots and drones
-So musks BFR is a drone? How about this...

"Putin has announced that he plans to send manned and unmanned missions to Mars as early as 2019"

-??? Is Putin sending drones or people? Or NASA...

"the human exploration of Mars crosses three thresholds, each with increasing challenges as humans move farther from Earth: Earth Reliant, the Proving Ground, and Earth Independent...
Mars is the next tangible frontier for human exploration, and it's an achievable goal."

-???
Wanting to be a comicbook hero is a rather dubious ambition
Wanting to be a flower poet on a science site is also.
Don't know why you want to get stuck on that failed planetoid, Mars? Nothing there that isn't easier to access among the asteroids
Hehe willis wants to chase down trace minerals on the other side of the system and send them - where?
Or for strategic transit, Callisto
WTF??? Explain.

Mar 21, 2018
Sure otto, just for you buddy. Psst, don't tell nobody else. Let's keep this a secret between friends.

Strategic Geopolitical Chokepoints dominate Terrestrial surface. Both militarily and commercially.

There are local dominants such as West Point and Quebec. Regional dominants such as Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Mexico City. Peiping, Vienna, Berlin, Moscow.

Global dominants are Panama, Hawaii, Singapore, Gibraltar, Iceland.

For our Solar System, the dominant points are Luna for the volume of space containing the Inner Worlds and asteroids. This side of the Asteroid Belt.

Callisto dominates the Outer System and asteroids.

Both moons have the advantages of low gravity but solid mass. No atmosphere. Orbiting outside the magnetospheres of Earth and Jupiter.

Yep, all those things I consider to render human space colonization to be unfeasible.

Those vividly imagined Battlestars of yours. otto? How do you intend to control those monsters from being misused?

Mar 21, 2018
Strategic Geopolitical Chokepoints dominate
So describe how our moon and and one of the many moons of jupiter are 'chokepoints' and how they 'render human space colonization to be unfeasible'. And no, empty word-droppings are not answers.
How do you intend to control those monsters from being misused?
How does otto control the Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) from being misused?

I know, asking you 2 questions makes you think you only have to answer one.

Answer the first one.

Mar 21, 2018
And if youre thnking for some crazy reason that the moon is a gravity assist...

"Has Luna been used for gravity assist for interplanetary probes?

Only one interplanetary mission has used a lunar gravity assist

Nozomi (spacecraft)"

-ie moon not needed to go anywhere. No potential strategic or tactical impairment.

To musks BFR and the rest, its like its not even there. Much like your pretend intellect.

Mar 22, 2018
From: Pretentiouslysophist
To: Ottoultracrepidarian

Re: Once more you are missing the point.

Warships. planes, installations. located on the Earth are manned by Human Beings. Who keep saying they world prefer not to blow up either themselves or their families. Though, whenever they feel reasonably safe from retaliation? They are willing to blow up other people's families.

Luna and Callisto are massive just enough to be useful for space-based industries. And considering they both come pre-desolated? Perfect for fighting remote-controlled wars using minimized weapon systems.

Without endangering any living creatures.

Win-win for all the warmongers, profiteers and manufacturers of obsolete weaponry.

No slingshot? Damn, you're a meanly persnickety pedant, taking away the children's toys.

Mar 22, 2018
Luna and Callisto are massive just enough to be useful for space-based industries
So how does this lead to your conclusion that
all those things I consider to render human space colonization to be unfeasible
-?? What would those industries be for, if not human colonies? Are you saying that we would want manufacturing on callisto for shipment of finished goods all the way back to earth?

What makes callisto more favorable for manufacturing than the dozens of other available worlds? Robots dont care how much they weigh. Less gravity means less energy expended moving material.
Once more you are missing the point
Youre not making one.

Mar 22, 2018
Mars is a sterile lifeless planet

Mars lost its magnetosphere then the solar radiation boiled the atmosphere away and radiated the Martian soil making it sterile. So far we have been unable to go to mars because we have no propulsion power plant that can take an away team down to the surface, as any one venturing on mars is not coming back which is proof there is no life on mars and never has been billions of years ago when mars lost its magnetosphere, microbial life on earth took billions of years to evolve. Mars lost its atmosphere before life had a chance and now if we bring a sample of irradiated sterile Martian soil home nothing will grow in it unless we cheat and fertilise it.

Mar 23, 2018
Location! Location! Location!

Callisto as a center for automated factories. Robots manufacturing robots to repair robots. The surface of this moon is chock-full of volatiles. The escape velocity is nearly as low as Luna's.

The planetary gravity would be sufficient to simplify for processes that need microgravity while dampen reaction momentum.

Some commentators have demanded development of some mighty dangerous exotic space drives and questionable power systems.

If we're going to full on press at how stupid we can gamble? I would prefer we tried the really crazy research in Jupiter's shadow. With the bonus that most of the dangerous cataclysm would be blocked & absorbed by Jupiter.

If alien biology was found? Callisto, all robots, all the time. Would be a smarter location to do research. Not just to safeguard Earth's biosphere. The waldoe laboratories, could be built onsite & sterile to protect the aliens from contamination.

Mar 24, 2018
And where are all these robots of yours going willis? Jupiter is on the other side of the belt. And why would this render
human space colonization ...unfeasible
-?
The surface of this moon is chock-full of volatiles
-but any metals are at the bottom of a very deep ocean.

"Compounds detected spectroscopically on the surface include water ice, carbon dioxide, silicates, and organic compounds... a cold, stiff, and icy lithosphere that is between 80 and 150 km thick. A salty ocean 150–200 km deep may lie beneath the crust..."

-so you would have to haul them up a nasty planetary or solar gravity well as opposed to just mining the belt and sending that material inward. Where all the people are and will be for centuries.

In contrast mars has lots of readily-available metals good for manufacturing your bots and drones, and can mine, refine, and manufacture easier than on earth. These industries will be established initially to support the independent mars colonies.

Mar 24, 2018
If alien biology was found? Callisto, all robots, all the time. Would be a smarter location to do research. Not just to safeguard Earth's biosphere
Space is a VERY BIG place. Why would bioresearch be any safer way out there rather than at a lagrange point, or where they are found? Do alien bugs fly through space willis?

And re choke points, what makes you think people will still be fighting over resources by that time? The west has already gotten its population growth rates under control. Off-world colonies with limited space and resources will only strengthen that zero-growth tendency. Robotics will enable it by reducing the need for human labor.

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