By William Ramage | United States
Extraterrestrial life has long been a well-debated topic. It is a commonly held belief that there is no possibility of life outside our own planet, when in reality there are millions, if not billions, of possible life-supporting planets. Additionally, it is possible that extraterrestrial life does not follow the same basis of life we do. For example, foreign life may not need water and oxygen, but rather could be sustained by different elements or compounds. The universe is such a vast, unexplored region, that the mere statistical chances for life other than us are so high, we can almost be certain of them.
Despite the universe being so immense and unmapped, humanity has already discovered many possible Earth-like planets, analyzing not even a fraction of the universe. We have even discovered possible life-supporting planets where we may have been reluctant to look. For example, NASA found a very strong candidate not far from us. An American probe, Cassini recorded jets of water squirting from cracks known near the south pole of Enceladus — evidence, scientists say, of an underground ocean kept warm and liquid. The possession of water makes Enceladus a very strong candidate to support life. Water is one of the main factors that currently determines if an area can sustain life, and since Enceladus contains an underground ocean that is heated, any life forms living inside are protected from the harsh outside elements. This also expands far past one potential life-bearing planet. At first glance, Enceladus did not appear at all to be Earth-like, but at a closer look, it is. Given this, we may be overlooking many planets that have the potential to host life.
Some argue that all life must follow the same guidelines as life on Earth when in reality it is very feasible that life may not follow any of the guidelines we think to be true. It is such a strange subject to think about, yet it is a very possible factor in our search for extraterrestrial life. The very definition of life is tricky, since scientists have only one example from which to draw conclusions, and that’s Earth life. If this comes to be true, possibilities of life may be endless. We could find life anywhere which once seemed completely improbable. Unearth-like life may not rely on any water, may not rely on any oxygen, and may not have any organic compounds. We think we know so much about life, and we’re just assuming all life is like ours, but once we discover more about our universe, we will uncover more and more solutions to these issues, and also uncover new mysteries.
With all of this being said, probability is still one large factor in finding extraterrestrial life. The possibility of any life other than ours in the universe can be determined by one equation–and the results are shocking. Using the Drake equation, Scientists at the University of Washington came to the conclusion that the chance that we are alone in the universe is one in ten billion trillion. Based on this knowledge, it seems almost impossible for other life not to exist. Knowing this, we may become more enthusiastic to search for life. A newfound enthusiasm paired with such a high chance of coming to a successful conclusion will fuel and motivate our search for life.
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