Are We Alone in the Universe?

Megan Watson, Staff Writer

One question that has been on scientists minds for a long time is; are we alone in the universe? The question will occur to many scientists if there is life beyond our planet because nobody has ever known for a fact.

NASA scientists, who study astrobiology, are looking for answers. A report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have some advice to help them along.

“Out of every 10 stars, six of them have an Earth-like planet,” said Alan Boss, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science who has studied the report. This means that the odds of finding life places other than earth are a lot better than scientists have ever thought. The report was recently released at the national academies’ headquarters in Washington.

Scientists searching for life in other parts of the universe should be looking beneath the surface. If you look at Earth from space with a powerful telescope, you would clearly be able to tell that there was life. You would be able to see trees, wild animals, forests and more.

But, as we know, there is also plenty of life beneath the surface like microbes: microscopic individual, living cells, and giant tube worms: tubes made from sand particles. Other places in the universe that may look like they are dormant on the surface could create life.

Saturn’s sixth largest moon is a perfect example. Its frozen outside may give the impression that it’s no more than a giant ice tube. But it’s not good to judge it just by how it looks on the exterior. Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, makes scientists think that it is able to hold life.

Scientists would need a better idea of how they would find any other life if able to. If scientists were ever to find life, they might not know right away because it could be something they have never seen before, an odd shape, or a gas/mixture of gases. If scientists were, to find something, it would most likely be a combination of multiple gases.

One possibility for detecting life is to focus on any substance in a planet that orbits a star outside the solar system. Otherwise known as, an exoplanet atmosphere.

“I think it’s good for scientists to look if we are alone in the universe. I mean it’s always good to explore and ask questions. This world is huge, so it’s always good to explore to see what else could be out there.” says Jessica Mancha, a seventh grader here at Dana, stating her opinion.

Overall, there is a major possibility of life beyond our planet. There are several hundred billion stars in our galaxy, hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, and around 150 planets spied already in the immediate neighborhood of the sun. There have even been spotted microbes on Saturn which means that there is a possible life.