Curious about just how astrobiologists plan to make good on their goal to find life in space in the next 20 years? We've compiled some of the coolest upcoming search-for-life projects we could find--check out our feature on the subject here, and browse the gallery below for a guide to some of the most impressive efforts directed at finding extraterrestrial life.
Click to launch our guide to the current efforts dedicated to finding life in space.
As part of my article about the search for extraterrestrial life, I interviewed Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, about when we'll find ET, why intelligent beings will be artificial, not biological, and why arms and legs make more sense than wheels. Here's the fascinating transcript of what he had to say.
Aliens could conceivably live on planets illuminated by the swirling mass of photons orbiting the singularity of a special type of black hole, according to a new theory.
Certain black holes are charged and rotate, and they possess a region past the event horizon — the point of no return — in which the fabric of spacetime appears normal again. This is called the inner Cauchy horizon.
Since the first binary code sent from Puerto Rico in 1974, our messages to aliens have been increasingly complicated and cryptic, possibly so much that extraterrestrials won't get what we're saying.
A trio of astrophysicists from the US and France hope to change that by building an extraterrestrial messaging protocol, so any spacebound communiqué could be easily understood.
As if there wasn't enough excitement swirling around the discovery of a potentially habitable planet circling the star Gliese 581 just 20 light years away, one of the scientists behind yesterday's announcement upped the ante during a press briefing yesterday afternoon, declaring "my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent."
Something is consuming hydrogen and organic molecules on Saturn's moon Titan, and the recipe matches astrobiologists' theories about possible methane-based life. Granted, there may be other chemical explanations -- it's just that no one knows what they are yet.
New data from the Cassini spacecraft show hydrogen is disappearing near Titan's surface. What's more, scientists have not been able to find acetylene, an organic molecule that should be pretty abundant in the moon's thick atmosphere.
All this fits very nicely with a theory from NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay, who proposed five years ago that microbial life on Titan could breathe hydrogen and eat acetylene, producing methane as a result.
On closer inspection, it seems that the Romulans haven't hijacked Voyager 2 after all. NASA has identified the problem that caused the space probe -- which is currently coasting somewhere 8 to 10 billion miles from Earth -- to start returning distorted patterns of data last month. Evidently a single memory bit in the memory of an onboard computer flipped from a zero to a one, a problem the space agency intends to fix tomorrow.
NASA's search for extraterrestrial life could result in missions such as a balloon or boat-like capsule on Titan, or even a complex three-part Mars mission to return a Martian sample to Earth. Until then, scientists have focused attention on both Earth and Mars regions which could hold organic materials or microfossils.
Extraterrestrial life hunters gathered this week near Houston at what amounts to a biennial Woodstock for astrobiologists, and a NASA teleconference today gave a glimpse into the proceedings. Some of the best and the brightest shared their latest findings and discussed future missions to search for signs of life on Mars, Europa and other exotic solar system destinations.
Over the past decade, those who wished to contribute to SETI's mission of locating life elsewhere in the universe could leave their computers on running a special screensaver and donate their unused computing power to the cause. Now, SETI director Jill Tarter is asking people around the globe to get more involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by opening up SETI's servers to the public calling for a worldwide, open source contribution to the search.
This week, scientists from around the globe converge on Cambridge University in England to discuss mankind's relationship with intelligent life from beyond the stars. So far, the news is not promising.