Extraterrestrial life is hypothetical life which may occur outside of Earth and which did not originate on Earth. Such life might range from simple prokaryotes (or comparable life forms) to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity. The Drake equation speculates about the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The science of extraterrestrial life in all its forms is known as astrobiology.
Since the mid-20th century, active ongoing research has taken place to look for signs of extraterrestrial life. This encompasses a search for current and historic extraterrestrial life, and a narrower search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. Depending on the category of search, methods range from the analysis of telescope and specimen data to radios used to detect and send communication signals.
The concept of extraterrestrial life, and particularly extraterrestrial intelligence, has had a major cultural impact, chiefly in works of science fiction. Over the years, science fiction has introduced a number of theoretical ideas, each having a wide range of possibilities. Many have piqued public interest in the possibilities of extraterrestrial life. One particular concern is the wisdom of attempting communication with extraterrestrial intelligence. Some encourage aggressive methods to make contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. Others argue to do so may give away the location of Earth, making an invasion possible in the future.
Alien life, such as microorganisms, has been hypothesized to exist in the Solar System and throughout the universe. This hypothesis relies on the vast size and consistent physical laws of the observable universe. According to this argument, made by scientists such as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, as well as notable personalities such as Winston Churchill, it would be improbable for life not to exist somewhere other than Earth. This argument is embodied in the Copernican principle, which states that Earth does not occupy a unique position in the Universe, and the mediocrity principle, which states that there is nothing special about life on Earth. The chemistry of life may have begun shortly after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, during a habitable epoch when the universe was only 10–17 million years old. Life may have emerged independently at many places throughout the universe. Alternatively, life may have formed less frequently, then spread—by meteoroids, for example—between habitable planets in a process called panspermia. In any case, complex organic molecules may have formed in the protoplanetary disk of dust grains surrounding the Sun before the formation of Earth. According to these studies, this process may occur outside Earth on several planets and moons of the Solar System and on planets of other stars.
Since the 1950s, astronomers have proposed that "habitable zones" around stars are the most likely places for life to exist. Numerous discoveries of such zones since 2007 have generated numerical estimates of many billions of planets with Earth-like compositions. As of 2013, only a few planets had been discovered in these zones. Nonetheless, on 4 November 2013, astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way, 11 billion of which may be orbiting Sun-like stars. The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away, according to the scientists. Astrobiologists have also considered a "follow the energy" view of potential habitats.
A study published in 2017 suggests that due to how complexity evolved in species on Earth, the level of predictability for alien evolution elsewhere would make them look similar to life on our planet. One of the study authors, Sam Levin, notes "Like humans, we predict that they are made-up of a hierarchy of entities, which all cooperate to produce an alien. At each level of the organism there will be mechanisms in place to eliminate conflict, maintain cooperation, and keep the organism functioning. We can even offer some examples of what these mechanisms will be." There is also research in assessing the capacity of life for developing intelligence. It has been suggested that this capacity arises with the number of potential niches a planet contains, and that the complexity of life itself is reflected in the information density of planetary environments, which in turn can be computed from its niches.
Life on Earth requires water as a solvent in which biochemical reactions take place. Sufficient quantities of carbon and other elements, along with water, might enable the formation of living organisms on terrestrial planets with a chemical make-up and temperature range similar to that of Earth. Life based on ammonia (rather than water) has been suggested as an alternative, though this solvent appears less suitable than water. It is also conceivable that there are forms of life whose solvent is a liquid hydrocarbon, such as methane, ethane or propane.
About 29 chemical elements play active roles in living organisms on Earth. About 95% of living matter is built upon only six elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. These six elements form the basic building blocks of virtually all life on Earth, whereas most of the remaining elements are found only in trace amounts. The unique characteristics of carbon make it unlikely that it could be replaced, even on another planet, to generate the biochemistry necessary for life. The carbon atom has the unique ability to make four strong chemical bonds with other atoms, including other carbon atoms. These covalent bonds have a direction in space, so that carbon atoms can form the skeletons of complex 3-dimensional structures with definite architectures such as nucleic acids and proteins. Carbon forms more compounds than all other elements combined. The great versatility of the carbon atom, and its abundance in the visible universe, makes it the element most likely to provide the bases—even exotic ones—for the chemical composition of life on other planets.
Planetary habitability in the Solar System
Some bodies in the Solar System have the potential for an environment in which extraterrestrial life can exist, particularly those with possible subsurface oceans. Should life be discovered elsewhere in the Solar System, astrobiologists suggest that it will more likely be in the form of extremophile microorganisms. According to NASA's 2015 Astrobiology Strategy, "Life on other worlds is most likely to include microbes, and any complex living system elsewhere is likely to have arisen from and be founded upon microbial life. Important insights on the limits of microbial life can be gleaned from studies of microbes on modern Earth, as well as their ubiquity and ancestral characteristics." Researchers found a stunning array of subterranean organisms, mostly microbial, deep underground and estimate that approximately 70 percent of the total number of Earth's bacteria and archaea organisms live within the Earth's crust. Rick Colwell, a member of the Deep Carbon Observatory team from Oregon State University, told the BBC: "I think it’s probably reasonable to assume that the subsurface of other planets and their moons are habitable, especially since we’ve seen here on Earth that organisms can function far away from sunlight using the energy provided directly from the rocks deep underground".
Mars may have niche subsurface environments where microbial life might exist. A subsurface marine environment on Jupiter's moon Europa might be the most likely habitat in the Solar System, outside Earth, for extremophile microorganisms.
The panspermia hypothesis proposes that life elsewhere in the Solar System may have a common origin. If extraterrestrial life was found on another body in the Solar System, it could have originated from Earth just as life on Earth could have been seeded from elsewhere (exogenesis). The first known mention of the term 'panspermia' was in the writings of the 5th century BC Greek philosopher Anaxagoras. In the 19th century it was again revived in modern form by several scientists, including Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1834), Kelvin (1871), Hermann von Helmholtz (1879) and, somewhat later, by Svante Arrhenius (1903). Sir Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) and Chandra Wickramasinghe (born 1939) are important proponents of the hypothesis who further contended that life forms continue to enter Earth's atmosphere, and may be responsible for epidemic outbreaks, new diseases, and the genetic novelty necessary for macroevolution.
Directed panspermia concerns the deliberate transport of microorganisms in space, sent to Earth to start life here, or sent from Earth to seed new stellar systems with life. The Nobel prize winner Francis Crick, along with Leslie Orgel proposed that seeds of life may have been purposely spread by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, but considering an early "RNA world" Crick noted later that life may have originated on Earth.
In the early 20th century, Venus was often thought to be similar to Earth in terms of habitability, but observations since the beginning of the Space Age have revealed that Venus's surface is inhospitable to Earth-like life. However, between the altitudes of 50 and 65 kilometers, the pressure and temperature are Earth-like, and it has been speculated that thermoacidophilic extremophile microorganisms might exist in the acidic upper layers of the Venusian atmosphere. Furthermore, Venus likely had liquid water on its surface for at least a few million years after its formation.
Life on Mars has been long speculated. Liquid water is widely thought to have existed on Mars in the past, and now can occasionally be found as low-volume liquid brines in shallow Martian soil. The origin of the potential biosignature of methane observed in Mars' atmosphere is unexplained, although hypotheses not involving life have also been proposed.
There is evidence that Mars had a warmer and wetter past: dried-up river beds, polar ice caps, volcanoes, and minerals that form in the presence of water have all been found. Nevertheless, present conditions on Mars' subsurface may support life. Evidence obtained by the Curiosity rover studying Aeolis Palus, Gale Crater in 2013 strongly suggests an ancient freshwater lake that could have been a hospitable environment for microbial life.
Current studies on Mars by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers are searching for evidence of ancient life, including a biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic and/or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable. The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on Mars is now a primary NASA objective.
Ceres, the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, has a thin water-vapor atmosphere. Frost on the surface may also have been detected in the form of bright spots. The presence of water on Ceres had led to speculation that life may be possible there.
Carl Sagan and others in the 1960s and 1970s computed conditions for hypothetical microorganisms living in the atmosphere of Jupiter. The intense radiation and other conditions, however, do not appear to permit encapsulation and molecular biochemistry, so life there is thought unlikely. In contrast, some of Jupiter's moons may have habitats capable of sustaining life. Scientists have indications that heated subsurface oceans of liquid water may exist deep under the crusts of the three outer Galilean moons—Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. The EJSM/Laplace mission is planned to determine the habitability of these environments.
Jupiter's moon Europa has been subject to speculation about the existence of life due to the strong possibility of a liquid water ocean beneath its ice surface. Hydrothermal vents on the bottom of the ocean, if they exist, may warm the water and could be capable of supporting nutrients and energy to microorganisms. It is also possible that Europa could support aerobic macrofauna using oxygen created by cosmic rays impacting its surface ice.
The case for life on Europa was greatly enhanced in 2011 when it was discovered that vast lakes exist within Europa's thick, icy shell. Scientists found that ice shelves surrounding the lakes appear to be collapsing into them, thereby providing a mechanism through which life-forming chemicals created in sunlit areas on Europa's surface could be transferred to its interior.
On 11 December 2013, NASA reported the detection of "clay-like minerals" (specifically, phyllosilicates), often associated with organic materials, on the icy crust of Europa. The presence of the minerals may have been the result of a collision with an asteroid or comet according to the scientists. The Europa Clipper, which would assess the habitability of Europa, is planned for launch in 2025. Europa's subsurface ocean is considered the best target for the discovery of life.
Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, has some of the conditions for life, including geothermal activity and water vapor, as well as possible under-ice oceans heated by tidal effects. The Cassini–Huygens probe detected carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen—all key elements for supporting life—during its 2005 flyby through one of Enceladus's geysers spewing ice and gas. The temperature and density of the plumes indicate a warmer, watery source beneath the surface.
Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is the only known moon in the Solar System with a significant atmosphere. Data from the Cassini–Huygens mission refuted the hypothesis of a global hydrocarbon ocean, but later demonstrated the existence of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in the polar regions—the first stable bodies of surface liquid discovered outside Earth. Analysis of data from the mission has uncovered aspects of atmospheric chemistry near the surface that are consistent with—but do not prove—the hypothesis that organisms there if present, could be consuming hydrogen, acetylene and ethane, and producing methane.
Small Solar System bodies
Models of heat retention and heating via radioactive decay in smaller icy Solar System bodies suggest that Rhea, Titania, Oberon, Triton, Pluto, Eris, Sedna, and Orcus may have oceans underneath solid icy crusts approximately 100 km thick. Of particular interest in these cases is the fact that the models indicate that the liquid layers are in direct contact with the rocky core, which allows efficient mixing of minerals and salts into the water. This is in contrast with the oceans that may be inside larger icy satellites like Ganymede, Callisto, or Titan, where layers of high-pressure phases of ice are thought to underlie the liquid water layer.
The scientific search for extraterrestrial life is being carried out both directly and indirectly. As of September 2017, 3,667 exoplanets in 2,747 systems have been identified, and other planets and moons in our own solar system hold the potential for hosting primitive life such as microorganisms.
Scientists search for biosignatures within the Solar System by studying planetary surfaces and examining meteorites. Some claim to have identified evidence that microbial life has existed on Mars. An experiment on the two Viking Mars landers reported gas emissions from heated Martian soil samples that some scientists argue are consistent with the presence of living microorganisms. Lack of corroborating evidence from other experiments on the same samples suggests that a non-biological reaction is a more likely hypothesis. In 1996, a controversial report stated that structures resembling nanobacteria were discovered in a meteorite, ALH84001, formed of rock ejected from Mars.
In February 2005 NASA scientists reported they may have found some evidence of present life on Mars. The two scientists, Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke of NASA's Ames Research Center, based their claim on methane signatures found in Mars's atmosphere resembling the methane production of some forms of primitive life on Earth, as well as on their own study of primitive life near the Rio Tinto river in Spain. NASA officials soon distanced NASA from the scientists' claims, and Stoker herself backed off from her initial assertions. Though such methane findings are still debated, support among some scientists for the existence of life on Mars exists.
In November 2011 NASA launched the Mars Science Laboratory that landed the Curiosity rover on Mars. It is designed to assess the past and present habitability on Mars using a variety of scientific instruments. The rover landed on Mars at Gale Crater in August 2012.
The Gaia hypothesis stipulates that any planet with a robust population of life will have an atmosphere in chemical disequilibrium, which is relatively easy to determine from a distance by spectroscopy. However, significant advances in the ability to find and resolve light from smaller rocky worlds near their star are necessary before such spectroscopic methods can be used to analyze extrasolar planets. To that effect, the Carl Sagan Institute was founded in 2014 and is dedicated to the atmospheric characterization of exoplanets in circumstellar habitable zones. Planetary spectroscopic data will be obtained from telescopes like WFIRST and ELT.
In August 2011, findings by NASA, based on studies of meteorites found on Earth, suggest DNA and RNA components (adenine, guanine and related organic molecules), building blocks for life as we know it, may be formed extraterrestrially in outer space. In October 2011, scientists reported that cosmic dust contains complex organic matter ("amorphous organic solids with a mixed aromatic-aliphatic structure") that could be created naturally, and rapidly, by stars. One of the scientists suggested that these compounds may have been related to the development of life on Earth and said that, "If this is the case, life on Earth may have had an easier time getting started as these organics can serve as basic ingredients for life."
In August 2012, and in a world first, astronomers at Copenhagen University reported the detection of a specific sugar molecule, glycolaldehyde, in a distant star system. The molecule was found around the protostellar binary IRAS 16293-2422, which is located 400 light years from Earth. Glycolaldehyde is needed to form ribonucleic acid, or RNA, which is similar in function to DNA. This finding suggests that complex organic molecules may form in stellar systems prior to the formation of planets, eventually arriving on young planets early in their formation.
Projects such as SETI are monitoring the galaxy for electromagnetic interstellar communications from civilizations on other worlds. If there is an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, there is no guarantee that it is transmitting radio communications in the direction of Earth or that this information could be interpreted as such by humans. The length of time required for a signal to travel across the vastness of space means that any signal detected would come from the distant past.
The presence of heavy elements in a star's light-spectrum is another potential biosignature; such elements would (in theory) be found if the star was being used as an incinerator/repository for nuclear waste products.
Some astronomers search for extrasolar planets that may be conducive to life, narrowing the search to terrestrial planets within the habitable zone of their star. Since 1992 over two thousand exoplanets have been discovered (4,135 planets in 3,073 planetary systems including 673 multiple planetary systems as of 1 December 2019). The extrasolar planets so far discovered range in size from that of terrestrial planets similar to Earth's size to that of gas giants larger than Jupiter. The number of observed exoplanets is expected to increase greatly in the coming years.
There is at least one planet on average per star. About 1 in 5 Sun-like stars have an "Earth-sized" planet in the habitable zone, with the nearest expected to be within 12 light-years distance from Earth. Assuming 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, that would be 11 billion potentially habitable Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way, rising to 40 billion if red dwarfs are included. The rogue planets in the Milky Way possibly number in the trillions.
As of March 2014, the least massive planet known is PSR B1257+12 A, which is about twice the mass of the Moon. The most massive planet listed on the NASA Exoplanet Archive is DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b, about 29 times the mass of Jupiter, although according to most definitions of a planet, it is too massive to be a planet and may be a brown dwarf instead. Almost all of the planets detected so far are within the Milky Way, but there have also been a few possible detections of extragalactic planets. The study of planetary habitability also considers a wide range of other factors in determining the suitability of a planet for hosting life.
One sign that a planet probably already contains life is the presence of an atmosphere with significant amounts of oxygen, since that gas is highly reactive and generally would not last long without constant replenishment. This replenishment occurs on Earth through photosynthetic organisms. One way to analyze the atmosphere of an exoplanet is through spectrography when it transits its star, though this might only be feasible with dim stars like white dwarfs.
The science of astrobiology considers life on Earth as well, and in the broader astronomical context. In 2015, "remains of biotic life" were found in 4.1 billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia, when the young Earth was about 400 million years old. According to one of the researchers, "If life arose relatively quickly on Earth, then it could be common in the universe."
The Drake equation
In 1961, University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake devised the Drake equation as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue at a meeting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation is best understood not as an equation in the strictly mathematical sense, but to summarize all the various concepts which scientists must contemplate when considering the question of life elsewhere. The Drake equation is:
- N = the number of Milky Way galaxy civilizations already capable of communicating across interplanetary space
- R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
- fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
- ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life
- fl = the fraction of planets that actually support life
- fi = the fraction of planets with life that evolves to become intelligent life (civilizations)
- fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology to broadcast detectable signs of their existence into space
- L = the length of time over which such civilizations broadcast detectable signals into space
Drake's proposed estimates are as follows, but numbers on the right side of the equation are agreed as speculative and open to substitution:
The Drake equation has proved controversial since several of its factors are uncertain and based on conjecture, not allowing conclusions to be made. This has led critics to label the equation a guesstimate, or even meaningless.
Based on observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, there are between 125 and 250 billion galaxies in the observable universe. It is estimated that at least ten percent of all Sun-like stars have a system of planets, i.e. there are 6.25×1018 stars with planets orbiting them in the observable universe. Even if it is assumed that only one out of a billion of these stars has planets supporting life, there would be some 6.25 billion life-supporting planetary systems in the observable universe.
A 2013 study based on results from the Kepler spacecraft estimated that the Milky Way contains at least as many planets as it does stars, resulting in 100–400 billion exoplanets. Also based on Kepler data, scientists estimate that at least one in six stars has an Earth-sized planet.
The apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for such civilizations is known as the Fermi paradox.
Cosmic pluralism, the plurality of worlds, or simply pluralism, describes the philosophical belief in numerous "worlds" in addition to Earth, which might harbor extraterrestrial life. Before the development of the heliocentric theory and a recognition that the Sun is just one of many stars, the notion of pluralism was largely mythological and philosophical. The earliest recorded assertion of extraterrestrial human life is found in ancient scriptures of Jainism. There are multiple "worlds" mentioned in Jain scriptures, that support human life. These include Bharat Kshetra, Mahavideh Kshetra, Airavat Kshetra, Hari kshetra, etc. Medieval Muslim writers like Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and Muhammad al-Baqir supported cosmic pluralism on the basis of the Qur'an.
With the scientific and Copernican revolutions, and later, during the Enlightenment, cosmic pluralism became a mainstream notion, supported by the likes of Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle in his 1686 work Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes. Pluralism was also championed by philosophers such as John Locke, Giordano Bruno and astronomers such as William Herschel. The astronomer Camille Flammarion promoted the notion of cosmic pluralism in his 1862 book La pluralité des mondes habités. None of these notions of pluralism were based on any specific observation or scientific information.
Early modern period
There was a dramatic shift in thinking initiated by the invention of the telescope and the Copernican assault on geocentric cosmology. Once it became clear that Earth was merely one planet amongst countless bodies in the universe, the theory of extraterrestrial life started to become a topic in the scientific community. The best known early-modern proponent of such ideas was the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, who argued in the 16th century for an infinite universe in which every star is surrounded by its own planetary system. Bruno wrote that other worlds "have no less virtue nor a nature different to that of our earth" and, like Earth, "contain animals and inhabitants".
In the early 17th century, the Czech astronomer Anton Maria Schyrleus of Rheita mused that "if Jupiter has (...) inhabitants (...) they must be larger and more beautiful than the inhabitants of Earth, in proportion to the [characteristics] of the two spheres".
In Baroque literature such as The Other World: The Societies and Governments of the Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac, extraterrestrial societies are presented as humoristic or ironic parodies of earthly society. The didactic poet Henry More took up the classical theme of the Greek Democritus in "Democritus Platonissans, or an Essay Upon the Infinity of Worlds" (1647). In "The Creation: a Philosophical Poem in Seven Books" (1712), Sir Richard Blackmore observed: "We may pronounce each orb sustains a race / Of living things adapted to the place". With the new relative viewpoint that the Copernican revolution had wrought, he suggested "our world's sunne / Becomes a starre elsewhere". Fontanelle's "Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds" (translated into English in 1686) offered similar excursions on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, expanding, rather than denying, the creative sphere of a Maker.
The possibility of extraterrestrials remained a widespread speculation as scientific discovery accelerated. William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus, was one of many 18th–19th-century astronomers who believed that the Solar System is populated by alien life. Other luminaries of the period who championed "cosmic pluralism" included Immanuel Kant and Benjamin Franklin. At the height of the Enlightenment, even the Sun and Moon were considered candidates for extraterrestrial inhabitants.
Speculation about life on Mars increased in the late 19th century, following telescopic observation of apparent Martian canals—which soon, however, turned out to be optical illusions. Despite this, in 1895, American astronomer Percival Lowell published his book Mars, followed by Mars and its Canals in 1906, proposing that the canals were the work of a long-gone civilization. The idea of life on Mars led British writer H. G. Wells to write the novel The War of the Worlds in 1897, telling of an invasion by aliens from Mars who were fleeing the planet's desiccation.
Spectroscopic analysis of Mars's atmosphere began in earnest in 1894, when U.S. astronomer William Wallace Campbell showed that neither water nor oxygen was present in the Martian atmosphere. By 1909 better telescopes and the best perihelic opposition of Mars since 1877 conclusively put an end to the canal hypothesis.
The science fiction genre, although not so named during the time, developed during the late 19th century. Jules Verne's Around the Moon (1870) features a discussion of the possibility of life on the Moon, but with the conclusion that it is barren. Stories involving extraterrestrials are found in e.g. Garrett P. Serviss's Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898), an unauthorized sequel to The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells was published in 1897 which stands at the beginning of the popular idea of the "Martian invasion" of Earth prominent in 20th-century pop culture.
Most unidentified flying objects or UFO sightings can be readily explained as sightings of Earth-based aircraft, known astronomical objects, or as hoaxes. Nonetheless, a certain fraction of the public believe that UFOs might actually be of extraterrestrial origin, and, indeed, the notion has had influence on popular culture.
The possibility of extraterrestrial life on the Moon was ruled out in the 1960s, and during the 1970s it became clear that most of the other bodies of the Solar System do not harbor highly developed life, although the question of primitive life on bodies in the Solar System remains open.
The failure so far of the SETI program to detect an intelligent radio signal after decades of effort has at least partially dimmed the prevailing optimism of the beginning of the space age. Notwithstanding, belief in extraterrestrial beings continues to be voiced in pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and in popular folklore, notably "Area 51" and legends. It has become a pop culture trope given less-than-serious treatment in popular entertainment.
In the words of SETI's Frank Drake, "All we know for sure is that the sky is not littered with powerful microwave transmitters". Drake noted that it is entirely possible that advanced technology results in communication being carried out in some way other than conventional radio transmission. At the same time, the data returned by space probes, and giant strides in detection methods, have allowed science to begin delineating habitability criteria on other worlds, and to confirm that at least other planets are plentiful, though aliens remain a question mark. The Wow! signal, detected in 1977 by a SETI project, remains a subject of speculative debate.
In 2000, geologist and paleontologist Peter Ward and astrobiologist Donald Brownlee published a book entitled Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. In it, they discussed the Rare Earth hypothesis, in which they claim that Earth-like life is rare in the universe, whereas microbial life is common. Ward and Brownlee are open to the idea of evolution on other planets that is not based on essential Earth-like characteristics (such as DNA and carbon).
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in 2010 warned that humans should not try to contact alien life forms. He warned that aliens might pillage Earth for resources. "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans", he said. Jared Diamond had earlier expressed similar concerns.
In November 2011, the White House released an official response to two petitions asking the U.S. government to acknowledge formally that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. According to the response, "The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race." Also, according to the response, there is "no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye." The response noted "odds are pretty high" that there may be life on other planets but "the odds of us making contact with any of them—especially any intelligent ones—are extremely small, given the distances involved."
On 17 April 2014, the discovery of the Earth-size exoplanet Kepler-186f, 500 light-years from Earth, was publicly announced; it is the first Earth-size planet to be discovered in the habitable zone and it has been hypothesized that there may be liquid water on its surface.
On 13 February 2015, scientists (including Geoffrey Marcy, Seth Shostak, Frank Drake and David Brin) at a convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, discussed Active SETI and whether transmitting a message to possible intelligent extraterrestrials in the Cosmos was a good idea; one result was a statement, signed by many, that a "worldwide scientific, political and humanitarian discussion must occur before any message is sent".
On 20 July 2015, British physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, along with the SETI Institute, announced a well-funded effort, called the Breakthrough Initiatives, to expand efforts to search for extraterrestrial life. The group contracted the services of the 100-meter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia in the United States and the 64-meter Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.
- For the purpose of this 1 in 5 statistic, "Sun-like" means G-type star. Data for Sun-like stars wasn't available so this statistic is an extrapolation from data about K-type stars
- For the purpose of this 1 in 5 statistic, Earth-sized means 1–2 Earth radii
- For the purpose of this 1 in 5 statistic, "habitable zone" means the region with 0.25 to 4 times Earth's stellar flux (corresponding to 0.5–2 AU for the Sun).
- About 1/4 of stars are GK Sun-like stars. The number of stars in the galaxy is not accurately known, but assuming 200 billion stars in total, the Milky Way would have about 50 billion Sun-like (GK) stars, of which about 1 in 5 (22%) or 11 billion would be Earth-sized in the habitable zone. Including red dwarfs would increase this to 40 billion.
- Davies, Paul (18 November 2013). "Are We Alone in the Universe?". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
- Pickrell, John (4 September 2006). "Top 10: Controversial pieces of evidence for extraterrestrial life". New Scientist. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
- Overbye, Dennis (6 January 2015). "As Ranks of Goldilocks Planets Grow, Astronomers Consider What's Next". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- Ghosh, Pallab (12 February 2015). "Scientists in US are urged to seek contact with aliens". BBC News.
- Baum, Seth; Haqq-Misra, Jacob; Domagal-Goldman, Shawn (June 2011). "Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis". Acta Astronautica. 68 (11): 2114–2129. arXiv:1104.4462. Bibcode:2011AcAau..68.2114B. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2010.10.012.
- Weaver, Rheyanne. "Ruminations on other worlds". State Press. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Livio, Mario (15 February 2017). "Winston Churchill's essay on alien life found". Nature. 542 (7641): 289–291. Bibcode:2017Natur.542..289L. doi:10.1038/542289a. PMID 28202987.
- De Freytas-Tamura, Kimiko (15 February 2017). "Winston Churchill Wrote of Alien Life in a Lost Essay". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
- Steiger, Brad; White, John, eds. (1986). Other Worlds, Other Universes. Health Research Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-7873-1291-6.
- Filkin, David; Hawking, Stephen W. (1998). Stephen Hawking's universe: the cosmos explained. Art of Mentoring Series. Basic Books. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-465-08198-1.
- Rauchfuss, Horst (2008). Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life. trans. Terence N. Mitchell. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-78822-5.
- Loeb, Abraham (October 2014). "The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe". International Journal of Astrobiology. 13 (4): 337–339. arXiv:1312.0613. Bibcode:2014IJAsB..13..337L. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.748.4820. doi:10.1017/S1473550414000196.
- Dreifus, Claudia (2 December 2014). "Much-Discussed Views That Go Way Back – Avi Loeb Ponders the Early Universe, Nature and Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- Rampelotto, P. H. (April 2010). Panspermia: A Promising Field of Research (PDF). Astrobiology Science Conference 2010: Evolution and Life: Surviving Catastrophes and Extremes on Earth and Beyond. 20–26 April 2010. League City, Texas. Bibcode:2010LPICo1538.5224R.
- Gonzalez, Guillermo; Richards, Jay Wesley (2004). The privileged planet: how our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery. Regnery Publishing. pp. 343–345. ISBN 978-0-89526-065-9.
- Moskowitz, Clara (29 March 2012). "Life's Building Blocks May Have Formed in Dust Around Young Sun". Space.com. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- Choi, Charles Q. (21 March 2011). "New Estimate for Alien Earths: 2 Billion in Our Galaxy Alone". Space.com. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- Torres, Abel Mendez (26 April 2013). "Ten potentially habitable exoplanets now". Habitable Exoplanets Catalog. University of Puerto Rico. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- Overbye, Dennis (4 November 2013). "Far-Off Planets Like the Earth Dot the Galaxy". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Petigura, Eric A.; Howard, Andrew W.; Marcy, Geoffrey W. (31 October 2013). "Prevalence of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110 (48): 19273–19278. arXiv:1311.6806. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11019273P. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319909110. PMC 3845182. PMID 24191033. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Khan, Amina (4 November 2013). "Milky Way may host billions of Earth-size planets". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- Hoehler, Tori M.; Amend, Jan P.; Shock, Everett L. (2007). "A "Follow the Energy" Approach for Astrobiology". Astrobiology. 7 (6): 819–823. Bibcode:2007AsBio...7..819H. doi:10.1089/ast.2007.0207. ISSN 1531-1074. PMID 18069913.
- Jones, Eriita G.; Lineweaver, Charles H. (2010). "To What Extent Does Terrestrial Life "Follow The Water"?" (PDF). Astrobiology. 10 (3): 349–361. Bibcode:2010AsBio..10..349J. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.309.9959. doi:10.1089/ast.2009.0428. hdl:1885/8711. ISSN 1531-1074. PMID 20446874.
- "Aliens may be more like us than we think". University of Oxford. 31 October 2017.
- Stevenson, David S.; Large, Sean (25 October 2017). "Evolutionary exobiology: Towards the qualitative assessment of biological potential on exoplanets". International Journal of Astrobiology. 18 (3): 204–208. doi:10.1017/S1473550417000349.
- Bond, Jade C.; O'Brien, David P.; Lauretta, Dante S. (June 2010). "The Compositional Diversity of Extrasolar Terrestrial Planets. I. In Situ Simulations". The Astrophysical Journal. 715 (2): 1050–1070. arXiv:1004.0971. Bibcode:2010ApJ...715.1050B. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/715/2/1050.
- Pace, Norman R. (20 January 2001). "The universal nature of biochemistry". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 98 (3): 805–808. Bibcode:2001PNAS...98..805P. doi:10.1073/pnas.98.3.805. PMC 33372. PMID 11158550.
- National Research Council (2007). "6.2.2: Nonpolar Solvents". The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems. The National Academies Press. p. 74. doi:10.17226/11919. ISBN 978-0-309-10484-5.
- Nielsen, Forrest H. (1999). "Ultratrace Minerals". In Shils, Maurice E.; Shike, Moshe (eds.). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease (9th ed.). Williams & Wilkins. pp. 283–303. ISBN 978-0-683-30769-6.
- Mix, Lucas John (2009). Life in space: astrobiology for everyone. Harvard University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-674-03321-4. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Horowitz, Norman H. (1986). To Utopia and Back: The Search for Life in the Solar System. W. H. Freeman & Co. ISBN 978-0-7167-1765-2.
- Dyches, Preston; Chou, Felcia (7 April 2015). "The Solar System and Beyond is Awash in Water". NASA. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- Hays, Lindsay, ed. (2015). "NASA Astrobiology Strategy 2015" (PDF). NASA. p. 65. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 December 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
- "Life Thrives Within the Earth's Crust". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
- "Life Deep Underground Is Twice the Volume of the Oceans: Study". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
- Summons, Roger E.; Amend, Jan P.; Bish, David; Buick, Roger; Cody, George D.; Des Marais, David J.; Dromart, Gilles; Eigenbrode, Jennifer L.; et al. (2011). "Preservation of Martian Organic and Environmental Records: Final Report of the Mars Biosignature Working Group" (PDF). Astrobiology. 11 (2): 157–81. Bibcode:2011AsBio..11..157S. doi:10.1089/ast.2010.0506. hdl:1721.1/66519. PMID 21417945.
There is general consensus that extant microbial life on Mars would probably exist (if at all) in the subsurface and at low abundance.
- Michalski, Joseph R.; Cuadros, Javier; Niles, Paul B.; Parnell, John; Deanne Rogers, A.; Wright, Shawn P. (2013). "Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere". Nature Geoscience. 6 (2): 133–8. Bibcode:2013NatGe...6..133M. doi:10.1038/ngeo1706.
- "Habitability and Biology: What are the Properties of Life?". Phoenix Mars Mission. The University of Arizona. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
If any life exists on Mars today, scientists believe it is most likely to be in pockets of liquid water beneath the Martian surface.
- Tritt, Charles S. (2002). "Possibility of Life on Europa". Milwaukee School of Engineering. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
- Kargel, Jeffrey S.; Kaye, Jonathan Z.; Head, James W.; Marion, Giles M.; Sassen, Roger; et al. (November 2000). "Europa's Crust and Ocean: Origin, Composition, and the Prospects for Life". Icarus. 148 (1): 226–265. Bibcode:2000Icar..148..226K. doi:10.1006/icar.2000.6471.
- Schulze-Makuch, Dirk; Irwin, Louis N. (2001). "Alternative Energy Sources Could Support Life on Europa" (PDF). Departments of Geological and Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 21 December 2007.
- Reuell, Peter (8 July 2019). "Harvard study suggests asteroids might play key role in spreading life". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- O'Leary, Margaret R. (2008). Anaxagoras and the Origin of Panspermia Theory. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-49596-2.
- Berzelius, Jöns Jacob (1834). "Analysis of the Alais meteorite and implications about life in other worlds". Annalen der Chemie und Pharmacie. 10: 134–135.
- Thomson, William (August 1871). "The British Association Meeting at Edinburgh". Nature. 4 (92): 261–278. Bibcode:1871Natur...4..261.. doi:10.1038/004261a0. PMC 2070380.
We must regard it as probably to the highest degree that there are countless seed-bearing meteoritic stones moving through space.
- Demets, René (October 2012). "Darwin's Contribution to the Development of the Panspermia Theory". Astrobiology. 12 (10): 946–950. Bibcode:2012AsBio..12..946D. doi:10.1089/ast.2011.0790. PMID 23078643.
- Arrhenius, Svante (March 1908). Worlds in the Making: The Evolution of the Universe. trans. H. Borns. Harper & Brothers. OCLC 1935295.
- Hoyle, Fred; Wickramasinghe, Chandra; Watson, John (1986). Viruses from Space and Related Matters (PDF). University College Cardiff Press. Bibcode:1986vfsr.book.....H. ISBN 978-0-906449-93-6.
- Crick, F. H.; Orgel, L. E. (1973). "Directed Panspermia". Icarus. 19 (3): 341–348. Bibcode:1973Icar...19..341C. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(73)90110-3.
- Orgel, L. E.; Crick, F. H. (January 1993). "Anticipating an RNA world. Some past speculations on the origin of life: Where are they today?". FASEB Journal. 7 (1): 238–239. doi:10.1096/fasebj.7.1.7678564. PMID 7678564.
- Clark, Stuart (26 September 2003). "Acidic clouds of Venus could harbour life". New Scientist. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Redfern, Martin (25 May 2004). "Venus clouds 'might harbour life'". BBC News. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- Dartnell, Lewis R.; Nordheim, Tom Andre; Patel, Manish R.; Mason, Jonathon P.; et al. (September 2015). "Constraints on a potential aerial biosphere on Venus: I. Cosmic rays". Icarus. 257: 396–405. Bibcode:2015Icar..257..396D. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2015.05.006.
- "Did the Early Venus Harbor Life? (Weekend Feature)". The Daily Galaxy. 2 June 2012. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- "Was Venus once a habitable planet?". European Space Agency. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- Atkinson, Nancy (24 June 2010). "Was Venus once a waterworld?". Universe Today. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- Bortman, Henry (26 August 2004). "Was Venus Alive? 'The Signs are Probably There'". Space.com. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- Ojha, L.; Wilhelm, M. B.; Murchie, S. L.; McEwen, A. S.; Wray, J. J.; Hanley, J.; Massé, M.; Chojnacki, M. (2015). "Spectral evidence for hydrated salts in recurring slope lineae on Mars". Nature Geoscience. 8 (11): 829–832. Bibcode:2015NatGe...8..829O. doi:10.1038/ngeo2546.
- "Top 10 Places To Find Alien Life : Discovery News". News.discovery.com. 8 June 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- Baldwin, Emily (26 April 2012). "Lichen survives harsh Mars environment". Skymania News. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- de Vera, J.-P.; Kohler, Ulrich (26 April 2012). "The adaptation potential of extremophiles to Martian surface conditions and its implication for the habitability of Mars" (PDF). European Geosciences Union. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Chang, Kenneth (9 December 2013). "On Mars, an Ancient Lake and Perhaps Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "Science – Special Collection – Curiosity Rover on Mars". Science. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Grotzinger, John P. (24 January 2014). "Introduction to Special Issue – Habitability, Taphonomy, and the Search for Organic Carbon on Mars". Science. 343 (6169): 386–387. Bibcode:2014Sci...343..386G. doi:10.1126/science.1249944. PMID 24458635.
- "Special Issue – Table of Contents – Exploring Martian Habitability". Science. 343 (6169): 345–452. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- "Special Collection – Curiosity – Exploring Martian Habitability". Science. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- Grotzinger, J. P.; et al. (24 January 2014). "A Habitable Fluvio-Lacustrine Environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars". Science. 343 (6169): 1242777. Bibcode:2014Sci...343A.386G. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.455.3973. doi:10.1126/science.1242777. PMID 24324272.
- Küppers, M.; O'Rourke, L.; Bockelée-Morvan, D.; Zakharov, V.; Lee, S.; Von Allmen, P.; Carry, B.; Teyssier, D.; Marston, A.; Müller, T.; Crovisier, J.; Barucci, M. A.; Moreno, R. (23 January 2014). "Localized sources of water vapour on the dwarf planet (1) Ceres". Nature. 505 (7484): 525–527. Bibcode:2014Natur.505..525K. doi:10.1038/nature12918. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 24451541.
- Campins, H.; Comfort, C. M. (23 January 2014). "Solar system: Evaporating asteroid". Nature. 505 (7484): 487–488. Bibcode:2014Natur.505..487C. doi:10.1038/505487a. PMID 24451536.
- A'Hearn, Michael F.; Feldman, Paul D. (1992). "Water vaporization on Ceres". Icarus. 98 (1): 54–60. Bibcode:1992Icar...98...54A. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(92)90206-M.
- Duffy, Alan (15 June 2015). "What on Ceres are those bright spots?". Cosmos.
- Rivkin, Andrew (21 July 2015). "Dawn at Ceres: A haze in Occator crater?". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- O'Neill, Ian (5 March 2009). "Life on Ceres: Could the Dwarf Planet be the Root of Panspermia". Universe Today. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Catling, David C. (2013). Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-19-958645-5.
- Boyle, Alan (22 January 2014). "Is There Life on Ceres? Dwarf Planet Spews Water Vapor". NBC. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- Ponnamperuma, Cyril; Molton, Peter (January 1973). "The prospect of life on Jupiter". Space Life Sciences. 4 (1): 32–44. Bibcode:1973SLSci...4...32P. doi:10.1007/BF02626340. PMID 4197410.
- Irwin, Louis Neal; Schulze-Makuch, Dirk (June 2001). "Assessing the Plausibility of Life on Other Worlds". Astrobiology. 1 (2): 143–160. Bibcode:2001AsBio...1..143I. doi:10.1089/153110701753198918. PMID 12467118.
- Dyches, Preston; Brown, Dwayne (12 May 2015). "NASA Research Reveals Europa's Mystery Dark Material Could Be Sea Salt". NASA. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "NASA's Hubble Observations Suggest Underground Ocean on Jupiter's Largest Moon". NASA News. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- Clavin, Whitney (1 May 2014). "Ganymede May Harbor 'Club Sandwich' of Oceans and Ice". NASA. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Vance, Steve; Bouffard, Mathieu; Choukroun, Mathieu; Sotina, Christophe (12 April 2014). "Ganymede's internal structure including thermodynamics of magnesium sulfate oceans in contact with ice". Planetary and Space Science. 96: 62–70. Bibcode:2014P&SS...96...62V. doi:10.1016/j.pss.2014.03.011.
- "Video (00:51) – Jupiter's 'Club Sandwich' Moon". NASA. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
- Chang, Kenneth (12 March 2015). "Suddenly, It Seems, Water Is Everywhere in Solar System". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
- Kuskov, O. L.; Kronrod, V. A. (2005). "Internal structure of Europa and Callisto". Icarus. 177 (2): 550–569. Bibcode:2005Icar..177..550K. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2005.04.014.
- Showman, Adam P.; Malhotra, Renu (1999). "The Galilean Satellites" (PDF). Science. 286 (5437): 77–84. doi:10.1126/science.286.5437.77. PMID 10506564.
- Hsiao, Eric (2004). "Possibility of Life on Europa" (PDF). University of Victoria.
- Europa may be home to alien life. Melissa Hogenboom, BBC News. 26 March 2015.
- Atkinson, Nancy (2009). "Europa Capable of Supporting Life, Scientist Says". Universe Today. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- Plait, Phil (17 November 2011). "Huge lakes of water may exist under Europa's ice". Discover. Bad Astronomy Blog.
- "Scientists Find Evidence for "Great Lake" on Europa and Potential New Habitat for Life". The University of Texas at Austin. 16 November 2011.
- Cook, Jia-Rui C. (11 December 2013). "Clay-Like Minerals Found on Icy Crust of Europa". NASA. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Wall, Mike (5 March 2014). "NASA hopes to launch ambitious mission to icy Jupiter moon". Space.com. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Clark, Stephen (14 March 2014). "Economics, water plumes to drive Europa mission study". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Than, Ker (13 September 2005). "Scientists Reconsider Habitability of Saturn's Moon". Space.com.
- Britt, Robert Roy (28 July 2006). "Lakes Found on Saturn's Moon Titan". Space.com.
- "Lakes on Titan, Full-Res: PIA08630". 24 July 2006. Archived from the original on 29 September 2006.
- Coustenis, A.; et al. (March 2009). "TandEM: Titan and Enceladus mission". Experimental Astronomy. 23 (3): 893–946. Bibcode:2009ExA....23..893C. doi:10.1007/s10686-008-9103-z.
- Lovett, Richard A. (31 May 2011). "Enceladus named sweetest spot for alien life". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2011.337. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- "What is Consuming Hydrogen and Acetylene on Titan?". NASA/JPL. 2010. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
- Strobel, Darrell F. (2010). "Molecular hydrogen in Titan's atmosphere: Implications of the measured tropospheric and thermospheric mole fractions". Icarus. 208 (2): 878–886. Bibcode:2010Icar..208..878S. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.03.003.
- McKay, C. P.; Smith, H. D. (2005). "Possibilities for methanogenic life in liquid methane on the surface of Titan". Icarus. 178 (1): 274–276. Bibcode:2005Icar..178..274M. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2005.05.018.
- Hoyle, Fred (1982). Evolution from Space (The Omni Lecture) and Other Papers on the Origin of Life. Enslow. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-89490-083-9.
Hoyle, Fred; Wickramasinghe, Chandra (1984). Evolution from Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-49263-2.
- Hoyle, Fred (1985). Living Comets. Cardiff: University College, Cardiff Press.
- Wickramasinghe, Chandra (June 2011). "Viva Panspermia". The Observatory.
- Wesson, P (2010). "Panspermia, Past and Present: Astrophysical and Biophysical Conditions for the Dissemination of Life in Space". Sp. Sci.Rev. 1–4. 156 (1–4): 239–252. arXiv:1011.0101. Bibcode:2010SSRv..156..239W. doi:10.1007/s11214-010-9671-x.
- Hussmann, Hauke; Sohl, Frank; Spohn, Tilman (November 2006). "Subsurface oceans and deep interiors of medium-sized outer planet satellites and large trans-neptunian objects". Icarus. 185 (1): 258–273. Bibcode:2006Icar..185..258H. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2006.06.005.
- Choi, Charles Q. (10 June 2010). "The Chance for Life on Io". Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- Cofield, Calla; Chou, Felicia (25 June 2018). "NASA Asks: Will We Know Life When We See It?". NASA. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- Nightingale, Sarah (25 June 2018). "UCR Team Among Scientists Developing Guidebook for Finding Life Beyond Earth". UCR Today. University of California, Riverside. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- Crenson, Matt (6 August 2006). "Experts: Little Evidence of Life on Mars". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 16 April 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- McKay, David S.; Gibson, Everett K., Jr.; Thomas-Keprta, Kathie L.; Vali, Hojatollah; Romanek, Christopher S.; et al. (August 1996). "Search for Past Life on Mars: Possible Relic Biogenic Activity in Martian Meteorite ALH84001". Science. 273 (5277): 924–930. Bibcode:1996Sci...273..924M. doi:10.1126/science.273.5277.924. PMID 8688069.
- Webster, Guy (27 February 2014). "NASA Scientists Find Evidence of Water in Meteorite, Reviving Debate Over Life on Mars". NASA. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- Gannon, Megan (28 February 2014). "Mars Meteorite with Odd 'Tunnels' & 'Spheres' Revives Debate Over Ancient Martian Life". Space.com. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- Chambers, Paul (1999). Life on Mars; The Complete Story. London: Blandford. ISBN 978-0-7137-2747-0.
- Klein, Harold P.; Levin, Gilbert V.; Levin, Gilbert V.; Oyama, Vance I.; Lederberg, Joshua; Rich, Alexander; Hubbard, Jerry S.; Hobby, George L.; Straat, Patricia A.; Berdahl, Bonnie J.; Carle, Glenn C.; Brown, Frederick S.; Johnson, Richard D. (1 October 1976). "The Viking Biological Investigation: Preliminary Results". Science. 194 (4260): 99–105. Bibcode:1976Sci...194...99K. doi:10.1126/science.194.4260.99. PMID 17793090.
- Beegle, Luther W.; Wilson, Michael G.; Abilleira, Fernando; Jordan, James F.; Wilson, Gregory R. (August 2007). "A Concept for NASA's Mars 2016 Astrobiology Field Laboratory". Astrobiology. 7 (4): 545–577. Bibcode:2007AsBio...7..545B. doi:10.1089/ast.2007.0153. PMID 17723090.
- "ExoMars rover". ESA. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
- Berger, Brian (2005). "Exclusive: NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars".
- "NASA denies Mars life reports". spacetoday.net. 2005.
- Spotts, Peter N. (28 February 2005). "Sea boosts hope of finding signs of life on Mars". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 18 December 2006.
- Chow, Dennis (22 July 2011). "NASA's Next Mars Rover to Land at Huge Gale Crater". Space.com. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- Amos, Jonathan (22 July 2011). "Mars rover aims for deep crater". BBC News. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- Glaser, Linda (27 January 2015). "Introducing: The Carl Sagan Institute". Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- "Carl Sagan Institute – Research". May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Cofield, Calla (30 March 2015). "Catalog of Earth Microbes Could Help Find Alien Life". Space.com. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Callahan, M.P.; Smith, K.E.; Cleaves, H.J.; Ruzica, J.; Stern, J.C.; Glavin, D.P.; House, C.H.; Dworkin, J.P. (11 August 2011). "Carbonaceous meteorites contain a wide range of extraterrestrial nucleobases". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (34): 13995–13998. Bibcode:2011PNAS..10813995C. doi:10.1073/pnas.1106493108. PMC 3161613. PMID 21836052. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
- Steigerwald, John (8 August 2011). "NASA Researchers: DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space". NASA. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space, NASA Evidence Suggests". ScienceDaily. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Chow, Denise (26 October 2011). "Discovery: Cosmic Dust Contains Organic Matter from Stars". Space.com. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- "Astronomers Discover Complex Organic Matter Exists Throughout the Universe". ScienceDaily. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
- Kwok, Sun; Zhang, Yong (26 October 2011). "Mixed aromatic–aliphatic organic nanoparticles as carriers of unidentified infrared emission features". Nature. 479 (7371): 80–3. Bibcode:2011Natur.479...80K. doi:10.1038/nature10542. PMID 22031328.
- Than, Ker (29 August 2012). "Sugar Found in Space". National Geographic. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- "Sweet! Astronomers spot sugar molecule near star". Associated Press. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
- Jørgensen, Jes K.; Favre, Cécile; Bisschop, Suzanne E.; Bourke, Tyler L.; van Dishoeck, Ewine F.; Schmalzl, Markus (September 2012). "Detection of the simplest sugar, glycolaldehyde, in a solar-type protostar with ALMA" (PDF). The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 757 (1). L4. arXiv:1208.5498. Bibcode:2012ApJ...757L...4J. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/757/1/L4.
- Schenkel, Peter (May 2006). "SETI Requires a Skeptical Reappraisal". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 28 June 2009.
- Moldwin, Mark (November 2004). "Why SETI is science and UFOlogy is not". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on 13 March 2009.
- "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum". The Columbus Optical SETI Observatory.
- Whitmire, Daniel P.; Wright, David P. (April 1980). "Nuclear waste spectrum as evidence of technological extraterrestrial civilizations". Icarus. 42 (1): 149–156. Bibcode:1980Icar...42..149W. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(80)90253-5.
- "Discovery of OGLE 2005-BLG-390Lb, the first cool rocky/icy exoplanet". IAP.fr. 25 January 2006.
- Than, Ker (24 April 2007). "Major Discovery: New Planet Could Harbor Water and Life". Space.com.
- Schneider, Jean (10 September 2011). "Interactive Extra-solar Planets Catalog". The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Wall, Mike (4 April 2012). "NASA Extends Planet-Hunting Kepler Mission Through 2016". Space.com.
- "NASA – Kepler". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- Harrington, J. D.; Johnson, M. (4 November 2013). "NASA Kepler Results Usher in a New Era of Astronomy".
- Tenenbaum, P.; Jenkins, J. M.; Seader, S.; Burke, C. J.; Christiansen, J. L.; Rowe, J. F.; Caldwell, D. A.; Clarke, B. D.; Li, J.; Quintana, E. V.; Smith, J. C.; Thompson, S. E.; Twicken, J. D.; Borucki, W. J.; Batalha, N. M.; Cote, M. T.; Haas, M. R.; Hunter, R. C.; Sanderfer, D. T.; Girouard, F. R.; Hall, J. R.; Ibrahim, K.; Klaus, T. C.; McCauliff, S. D.; Middour, C. K.; Sabale, A.; Uddin, A. K.; Wohler, B.; Barclay, T.; Still, M. (2013). "Detection of Potential Transit Signals in the First 12 Quarters of Kepler Mission Data". The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. 206 (1): 5. arXiv:1212.2915. Bibcode:2013ApJS..206....5T. doi:10.1088/0067-0049/206/1/5.
- "My God, it's full of planets! They should have sent a poet" (Press release). Planetary Habitability Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo. 3 January 2012.
- Santerne, A.; Díaz, R. F.; Almenara, J.-M.; Lethuillier, A.; Deleuil, M.; Moutou, C. (2013). "Astrophysical false positives in exoplanet transit surveys: Why do we need bright stars?". arXiv:1310.2133 [astro-ph.EP].
- Cassan, A.; et al. (11 January 2012). "One or more bound planets per Milky Way star from microlensing observations". Nature. 481 (7380): 167–169. arXiv:1202.0903. Bibcode:2012Natur.481..167C. doi:10.1038/nature10684. PMID 22237108.
- Sanders, R. (4 November 2013). "Astronomers answer key question: How common are habitable planets?". newscenter.berkeley.edu.
- Petigura, E. A.; Howard, A. W.; Marcy, G. W. (2013). "Prevalence of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110 (48): 19273–19278. arXiv:1311.6806. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11019273P. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319909110. PMC 3845182. PMID 24191033.
- Strigari, L. E.; Barnabè, M.; Marshall, P. J.; Blandford, R. D. (2012). "Nomads of the Galaxy". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 423 (2): 1856–1865. arXiv:1201.2687. Bibcode:2012MNRAS.423.1856S. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21009.x. estimates 700 objects >10−6 solar masses (roughly the mass of Mars) per main-sequence star between 0.08 and 1 Solar mass, of which there are billions in the Milky Way.
- Chang, Kenneth (24 August 2016). "One Star Over, a Planet That Might Be Another Earth". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b". Caltech. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
- Sahlmann, J.; Lazorenko, P. F.; Ségransan, D.; Martín, E. L.; Queloz, D.; Mayor, M.; Udry, S. (August 2013). "Astrometric orbit of a low-mass companion to an ultracool dwarf". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 556: 133. arXiv:1306.3225. Bibcode:2013A&A...556A.133S. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201321871.
- Aguilar, David A.; Pulliam, Christine (25 February 2013). "Future Evidence for Extraterrestrial Life Might Come from Dying Stars". Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Release 2013-06. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- Borenstein, Seth (19 October 2015). "Hints of life on what was thought to be desolate early Earth". Excite. Yonkers, NY: Mindspark Interactive Network. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 23 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
- Bell, Elizabeth A.; Boehnike, Patrick; Harrison, T. Mark; et al. (19 October 2015). "Potentially biogenic carbon preserved in a 4.1 billion-year-old zircon" (PDF). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112 (47): 14518–21. Bibcode:2015PNAS..11214518B. doi:10.1073/pnas.1517557112. ISSN 1091-6490. PMC 4664351. PMID 26483481. Retrieved 20 October 2015. Early edition, published online before print.
- "Chapter 3 – Philosophy: "Solving the Drake Equation". SETI League. December 2002. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- Burchell, M. J. (2006). "W(h)ither the Drake equation?". International Journal of Astrobiology. 5 (3): 243–250. Bibcode:2006IJAsB...5..243B. doi:10.1017/S1473550406003107.
- Aguirre, L. (1 July 2008). "The Drake Equation". Nova ScienceNow. PBS. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Cohen, Jack; Stewart, Ian (2002). "Chapter 6: What does a Martian look like?". Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-09-187927-3.
- Temming, M. (18 July 2014). "How many galaxies are there in the universe?". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
- Marcy, G.; Butler, R.; Fischer, D.; et al. (2005). "Observed Properties of Exoplanets: Masses, Orbits and Metallicities". Progress of Theoretical Physics Supplement. 158: 24–42. arXiv:astro-ph/0505003. Bibcode:2005PThPS.158...24M. doi:10.1143/PTPS.158.24. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008.
- Swift, Jonathan J.; Johnson, John Asher; Morton, Timothy D.; Crepp, Justin R.; Montet, Benjamin T.; et al. (January 2013). "Characterizing the Cool KOIs. IV. Kepler-32 as a Prototype for the Formation of Compact Planetary Systems throughout the Galaxy". The Astrophysical Journal. 764 (1). 105. arXiv:1301.0023. Bibcode:2013ApJ...764..105S. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/764/1/105.
- "100 Billion Alien Planets Fill Our Milky Way Galaxy: Study". Space.com. 2 January 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
- "Alien Planets Revealed". Nova. Season 41. Episode 10. 8 January 2014. Event occurs at 50:56.
- Overbye, Dennis (3 August 2015). "The Flip Side of Optimism About Life on Other Planets". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
- "Who discovered that the Sun was a Star?". Stanford Solar Center.
- Mukundchandra G. Raval (2016). Meru: The Center of our Earth. Notion Press. ISBN 978-1-945400-10-0.
- Crowe, Michael J. (1999). The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750–1900. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-40675-6.
- Wiker, Benjamin D. (4 November 2002). "Alien Ideas: Christianity and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life". Crisis Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 February 2003.
- Irwin, Robert (2003). The Arabian Nights: A Companion. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 204 & 209. ISBN 978-1-86064-983-7.
- David A. Weintraub (2014). "Islam," Religions and Extraterrestrial Life (pp 161–168). Springer International Publishing.
- de Fontenelle, Bernard le Bovier (1990). Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds. trans. H. A. Hargreaves. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-91058-4.
- "Flammarion, (Nicolas) Camille (1842–1925)". The Internet Encyclopedia of Science.
- "Giordano Bruno: On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi) Introductory Epistle: Argument of the Third Dialogue". Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- "Rheita.htm". cosmovisions.com.
- Evans, J. E.; Maunder, E. W. (June 1903). "Experiments as to the actuality of the "Canals" observed on Mars". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 63 (8): 488–499. Bibcode:1903MNRAS..63..488E. doi:10.1093/mnras/63.8.488.
- Wallace, Alfred Russel (1907). Is Mars Habitable? A Critical Examination of Professor Lowell's Book "Mars and Its Canals," With an Alternative Explanation. London: Macmillan. OCLC 8257449.
- Chambers, Paul (1999). Life on Mars; The Complete Story. London: Blandford. ISBN 978-0-7137-2747-0.
- Cross, Anne (2004). "The Flexibility of Scientific Rhetoric: A Case Study of UFO Researchers". Qualitative Sociology. 27 (1): 3–34. doi:10.1023/B:QUAS.0000015542.28438.41.
- Ailleris, Philippe (January–February 2011). "The lure of local SETI: Fifty years of field experiments". Acta Astronautica. 68 (1–2): 2–15. Bibcode:2011AcAau..68....2A. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2009.12.011.
- "LECTURE 4: MODERN THOUGHTS ON EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE". The University of Antarctica. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Ward, Peter; Brownlee, Donald (2000). Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. Copernicus. Bibcode:2000rewc.book.....W. ISBN 978-0-387-98701-9.
- "Hawking warns over alien beings". BBC News. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- Diamond, Jared M. (2006). "Chapter 12". The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-06-084550-6.
- Larson, Phil (5 November 2011). "Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet". White House. Archived from the original on 24 November 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- Atkinson, Nancy (5 November 2011). "No Alien Visits or UFO Coverups, White House Says". UniverseToday. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
- "Special Issue: Exoplanets". Science. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
- Chang, Kenneth (17 April 2014). "Scientists Find an 'Earth Twin', or Maybe a Cousin". The New York Times.
- Borenstein, Seth (13 February 2015). "Should We Call the Cosmos Seeking ET? Or Is That Risky?". The New York Times. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015.
- Ghosh, Pallab (12 February 2015). "Scientist: 'Try to contact aliens'". BBC News. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
- "Regarding Messaging To Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) / Active Searches For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Active SETI)". University of California, Berkeley. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- Katz, Gregory (20 July 2015). "Searching for ET: Hawking to look for extraterrestrial life". Excite!. Associated Press. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aliens.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Alien life|
|Wikisource has original works on the topic: Extraterrestrial life|
- Baird, John C. (1987). The Inner Limits of Outer Space: A Psychologist Critiques Our Efforts to Communicate With Extraterrestrial Beings. Hanover: University Press of New England. ISBN 978-0-87451-406-3.
- Cohen, Jack; Stewart, Ian (2002). Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-187927-3.
- Crowe, Michael J. (1986). The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750–1900. Cambridge. ISBN 978-0-521-26305-4.
- Crowe, Michael J. (2008). The extraterrestrial life debate Antiquity to 1915: A Source Book. University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 978-0-268-02368-3.
- Dick, Steven J. (1984). Plurality of Worlds: The Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democratis to Kant. Cambridge.
- Dick, Steven J. (1996). The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science. Cambridge. ISBN 978-0-521-34326-8.
- Dick, Steven J. (2001). Life on Other Worlds: The 20th Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate. Cambridge. ISBN 978-0-521-79912-6.
- Dick, Steven J.; Strick, James E. (2004). The Living Universe: NASA And the Development of Astrobiology. Rutgers. ISBN 978-0-8135-3447-3.
- Fasan, Ernst (1970). Relations with alien intelligences – the scientific basis of metalaw. Berlin: Berlin Verlag.
- Goldsmith, Donald (1997). The Hunt for Life on Mars. New York: A Dutton Book. ISBN 978-0-525-94336-5.
- Grinspoon, David (2003). Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-018540-4.
- Lemnick, Michael T. (1998). Other Worlds: The Search for Life in the Universe. New York: A Touchstone Book.
- Michaud, Michael (2006). Contact with Alien Civilizations – Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials. Berlin: Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-28598-6.
- Pickover, Cliff (2003). The Science of Aliens. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-07315-3.
- Roth, Christopher F. (2005). Debbora Battaglia (ed.). Ufology as Anthropology: Race, Extraterrestrials, and the Occult. E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
- Sagan, Carl; Shklovskii, I. S. (1966). Intelligent Life in the Universe. Random House.
- Sagan, Carl (1973). Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-19106-7.
- Ward, Peter D. (2005). Life as we do not know it-the NASA search for (and synthesis of) alien life. New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-03458-1.
- Tumminia, Diana G. (2007). Alien Worlds – Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0858-5.