Start A Petition

To Find Aliens, We Must Think Of Life As We Do Not Know It

Science & Tech  (tags: Astrophysics, astrophysicist, Skibba, San Diego, California, astronomy, discovery, humans, interesting, investigation, nasa, news, research, science, scientists, space, technology, world )

- 549 days ago -
Article by Ramin Skibba, Astrophysicist. "From blob-like jellyfish to rock-like lichens, our planet teems with such diversity of life that it is difficult to recognise some organisms as even being alive."


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Fiona Ogilvie (562)
Tuesday September 19, 2017, 5:17 am
That complexity hints at the challenge of searching for life as we don’t know it – the alien biology that might have taken hold on other planets, where conditions could be unlike anything we’ve seen before. ‘The Universe is a really big place. Chances are, if we can imagine it, it’s probably out there on a planet somewhere,’ said Morgan Cable, an astrochemist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. ‘The question is, will we be able to find it?’ 

For decades, astronomers have come at that question by confining their search to organisms broadly similar to the ones here. In 1976, NASA’s Viking landers examined soil samples on Mars, and tried to animate them using the kind of organic nutrients that Earth microbes like, with inconclusive results. Later this year, the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter will begin scoping out methane in the Martian atmosphere, which could be produced by Earth-like bacterial life. NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will likewise scan for carbon-based compounds from possible past or present Mars organisms.

But the environment on Mars isn’t much like that on Earth, and the exoplanets that astronomers are finding around other stars are stranger still – many of them quite unlike anything in our solar system. For that reason, it’s important to broaden the search for life. We need to open our minds to genuinely alien kinds of biological, chemical, geological and physical processes. ‘Everybody looks for “biosignatures”, but they’re meaningless because we don’t have any other examples of biology,’ said the chemist Lee Cronin at the University of Glasgow.

Much longer, to me fascinating article, on site. You may sign up for the newsletter on site.

Please note, comment, and forward.

Peggy B (43)
Tuesday September 19, 2017, 3:14 pm
Interesting article.

Danuta W (1251)
Wednesday September 20, 2017, 7:06 am

Lenore K (0)
Wednesday September 20, 2017, 3:15 pm

Mitchell D (82)
Wednesday September 20, 2017, 6:50 pm
Cool! If we find life elsewhere, it will be a blow to human hubris, and claims of being "exceptional," I hope.

Fiona Ogilvie (562)
Wednesday September 20, 2017, 7:23 pm
I agree Mitchell. A blow to human hubris would do this world a world of good.

Janet B (0)
Wednesday September 20, 2017, 7:40 pm

Lindsay K (6)
Thursday September 21, 2017, 1:42 pm
Noted. Thanks for sharing.

Lenore K (0)
Thursday September 21, 2017, 3:41 pm

Lenore K (0)
Friday September 22, 2017, 1:52 pm

Past Member (0)
Tuesday September 26, 2017, 1:01 pm
thanks for this
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in Science & Tech

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.