While it may seem natural to zero in on "alien Earths," such a narrow focus would exclude many potentially life-supporting exoplanets, whose diversity continues to astound astronomers, says Sara Seager of MIT.
And researchers can't afford to be so picky, she adds, since they'll be able to get in-depth looks at just a handful of alien worlds for the foreseeable future. [9 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]
"The number of planets that we're going to be able to see in our lifetime — and look at their atmospheres for signs of life— is so small that we're forced to be open-minded," Seager told SPACE.com.
Seager discusses exoplanet habitability in a review article published online today (May 2) in the journal Science.
The Milky Way galaxy is so big, that there's no doubt, statistically speaking, that ETs exist.
That's what several prominent scientists say on the month-long series "Are We Alone?," airing on the Science Channel.
But what do these otherworldly denizens look like? Are they smart or dumb? Will we ever come face to face with them?
On the first installment of "Aliens: The Definitive Guide," premiering tonight, famed theoretical physicist Michio Kaku is among those who take a strong stand on the biggest questions about the search for intelligent life in the universe.
Katherine Parkinson and Julian Rhind-Tutt star in a new sitcom about an alien invasion of a small English village.
The Geonin are not your typical alien invaders. Instead of the usual all-at-once approach to global domination (which usually fails, they've noticed) they've decided to start small. They've encircled a small English village with an impenetrable heat wave, preventing anything coming in or out. With Cresdon Green as their base, they will learn about humankind, using their knowledge to effectively and efficiently spread their domination over the rest of the world, bit by bit.
Researchers are now posting all exoplanet sightings by the Kepler observatory into a single, comprehensive website called the "NASA Exoplanet Archive." Instead of going through the long planet confirmation process before making data publicly available, since December of last year, scientists have started shoveling out all the data Kepler collects into a comprehensive list.
Nearly two years after spotting Gliese 581g, the celebrated "first potentially habitable" alien world, the planet's discoverers continue to fight for its existence.
The discovery of Gliese 581g made headlines around the world in September 2010, because the planet was said to orbit in the middle of its star's "habitable zone" — that just-right range of distances where liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, could exist.
Just a few weeks later, however, another prominent research team began casting doubt on the find, saying the alien planet didn't show up in their observations. This group, led by Michel Mayor of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, had found the previously known four planets in the Gliese 581 system.
But in a new study that will be published Aug. 1, 581g's discoverers examine the Swiss team's since-expanded data set and take issue with their conclusions, saying that the evidence supports the planet's existence after all.
NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.
Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA's Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.
Aliens? We'll probably have a close encounter this century says leading physicist who warns governments to be ready | Mail Online
It’s a scientific prediction that will get dollar signs pinging in Steven Spielberg’s eyes: We could make contact with aliens in less than 100 years.
But according to one of our leading physicists, it is a matter for governments – rather than Hollywood – who should start preparing for our first extra-terrestrial encounter now.
Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum conference in Dublin, Jocelyn Bell Burnell said: ‘I do suspect we are going to get signs of life elsewhere, maybe even intelligent life, within the next century.
How well prepared are we? Have we thought of how we approach them? Should we put them in a zoo, eat them, send in GIs to bring them democracy?’
Documents from the Ministry of Defence classified archives show staff believed aliens could visit for “military reconnaissance”, “scientific” research or “tourism”.
In a 1995 briefing now published by the National Archives, a desk officer said the purpose of reported alien craft sightings “needs to be established as a matter of priority”, adding there did not appear to be “hostile intent”.
The unnamed official said it was “essential that we start with open minds”, explaining “what is scientific ‘fact’ today may not be true tomorrow”.
Clarifying he did not “talk to little green men every night”, he said: “We have a remit that we have never satisfied. That is, we do not now (sic) if UFOs exist.
“If they do exist, we do not know what they are, their purpose or if they pose a threat to the UK.
Tony Blair received MOD briefing on UFOs while prime minister because of his concerns over the disclosure of classified information on alien life-forms | Mail Online
Former prime minister Tony Blair received a briefing about UFOs from the Ministry of Defence because of his concerns over the disclosure of classified information on alien life-forms.
Downing Street requested the advice for the PM in 1998 as the Freedom of Information Act was being introduced, which allowed the public to obtain information on alien mysteries.
Mr Blair's concerns were raised after he received a letter from a member of the public referring to a 'cover-up' and asking him to make UFO reports and other information available.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Blair sought advice from the MOD for their policy on the issue.
Aliens could resemble jellyfish the size of a football field says government advisor - Science - News - The Independent
From little green men to the crustacean-like 'prawns' of 'District 9' and H.R.Giger's nightmarish creation in the 'Alien' films - our appetite for imagining how visitors from another planet might look shows no sign of diminishing.
According to a British satellite expert and government adviser, however, the outlandish imaginings of Hollywood may not be quite alien enough.
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock - a leading scientist at European space company Astrium - has suggested that, far from being little green men, aliens could actually look like giant jellyfish.
The bizarre creatures the British scientist has dreamt up are she says an example of life "not as we know it".
The aliens she imagines are the product of what evolution might create on a world such as Saturn's moon Titan.
She imagines aliens that drift through methane clouds scooping up chemical nutrients into their mouths.