Hundreds of Hollywood movies have prepared us for the moment when we finally encounter alien life, but NASA chief scientist Jim Green still doesn’t think we’re ready.
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Green said that we may find life on Mars within the next couple of years, but expressed his worry that Earthlings are not yet prepared to grapple with this truth.
The NASA scientist seemed pretty certain of the existence of alien life outside our planet, saying, “I think we’re close to finding it, and making some announcements.”
Green was speaking in reference to the upcoming Mars 2020 mission, when NASA will send a rover to collect samples from the martian surface and bring them back to Earth thereby knowing once and for all whether Mars hosts, or has ever hosted, life.
“It will be revolutionary,” Green said in the interview. “It will start a whole new line of thinking. I don’t think we’re prepared for the results. We’re not.”
The debate over whether or not life exists elsewhere in the universe, especially next door within our own solar system, has haunted scientists and conspiracy theory enthusiasts for decades. But it seems that we are closer to an answer today than ever before, with two planned missions to Mars, Mars 2020 and European Space Agency’s ExoMars, and other deep space exploration trips on the agenda.
The Mars 2020 Rover
But what would life on Mars actually look like, and would it be enough to create as big of a stir as Green suggests. That’s not quite likely.
Evidence has suggested that Mars may have had liquid water on its surface at some point in its ancient past, which was probably home to microorganisms. Finding some type of bacteria or microbe on Mars is not exactly what most people think of when they imagine alien life, and it would hardly be news for those who are not sworn space enthusiasts.
But it could be promising for humanity’s future plans to colonize other planetary bodies, namely Mars.
This past weekend, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave an update on his private aerospace company’s plans to transport humans to the moon and Mars, and to possibly one day colonize Mars in order to preserve human consciousness.
So, in the debate of whether or not there is alien life out there, Musk is pretty firmly on the side of a human-centric universe where no other intelligent life exists.
“People often ask me, ‘What do you know about the aliens?’” Musk said during Saturday’s event. “And I’m like, ‘Man, I tell you, pretty sure I’d know if there were aliens. I’ve not seen any sign of aliens.’”
This wasn’t the only disappointing blow dealt to alien lovers recently. On September 20, a planned raid on the notorious Area 51 in Nevada that had over 2 million attendees on a Facebook group, ended in a group of around 40 people and no aliens.
So maybe people are losing hope of ever finding alien life, or perhaps coming to terms that it won’t be quite as extraterrestrially exciting as we have been made to picture it.
But if it is some puny bacterial form of life, then yes we are ready.
Media via NASA