It’s one of the biggest riddles of our existence. Are we alone in the universe? And if not, what type and form does alien life take? According to NASA experts, we’ll have an answer a lot sooner than you might think.
NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan put it in no uncertain terms:
I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years. We know where to look. We know how to look. In most cases we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it. And so I think we’re definitely on the road.
Why are they so confident? As we learn more about the solar system, we’re discovering more and more water in it. Not every world has the potential for life, but the presence of liquid water is usually a good sign that there’s some form of alien life out there, albeit not the saucer men you were probably expecting. No, this is more likely similar to extreme life forms on Earth, like what you find at the bottom of the ocean, or microbes. Either way, though, discovering alien life would be an enormous leap forward not just for biology, but also for understanding and colonizing other worlds; if we know how the locals live, it makes it easier for us to figure out how to adapt.