For over half a century, scientists, astronomers, and citizen stargazers, have been on the hunt for extra-terrestrial life.
But, even with the capabilities of extra-solar planet locating missions, such as the Kepler Space Observatory, we still have no evidence to prove that we’re not alone.
And as we continue to fall foul of the Fermi Paradox, (in other words, if intelligent life exists, why have we consistently failed to find it), now one astronomer says that will all change in the next decade.
In an interview with Futurism, astronomy researcher Chris Impey, claimed that humans will encounter alien life within the next ten to fifteen years, as technical capabilities exponentially increase.
Impey said: “Every new SETI experiment done now is about as good as the sum of all previous SETI experiments put together...the first SETI experiment was in 1959, so obviously it has been going on for over half a century without any success.”
Although he is convinced we will find life, he caveats his claim by saying this life will not be intelligent, he said: “I put my money on detecting microbial life in 10 to 15 years, but not at all detecting intelligent life.”
He also has some suggestions about where to start looking, including in and outside our own solar system.
While Impey doesn’t rule out the possibility that life still exists on Mars, he says that lifeforms on the red planet are likely to be below the surface, and are, therefore much harder to detect than other options.
Instead he says that by continuing to look on Mars, we stand more chance of finding evidence for life that used to exist, he explained: “If we actually get Mars rocks back here to Earth from a place that we think could have been habitable in the past, then we might find evidence of prior life.”
Another celestial body to consider is the water world Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
Impey says that looking beyond our solar system at the atmospheres (rather than surfaces) of earth-like exoplanets is likely to bear more fruit; it does makes sense that we would look for locations similar to the only place in the universe we are certain hosts life, Earth.
“The research should help us pinpoint the planets that are the closest to earth as possible, not in distance, but in character,” says Impey.