Life on other planets controversy

Whether or not there is life on other planets is a controversial topic that has been considered by almost everyone at one point in time or another. Astronomers, philosophers, and everyday people have contemplated whether our planet is the only one that sustains life. After hundreds of years of scientific discovery and technological advancement, other planets that seem capable of sustaining the same life as earth have been discovered. Space organizations like NASA continue to make strides toward the possible exploration and even future colonization of these planets. Yet evidence of life on other planets continues to elude us.

Scientists working at NASA are not necessarily looking for the kind of life that most people think about when the topic of life on other planets is mentioned. What our modern day scientists are searching for are the smallest beings possibly considered alive: bacteria. Anyone who understands the basics of evolutionary theory knows that its most basic claim is we started out as bacteria and slowly evolved into the species we are today. Scientists are looking for the same beginnings of this evolutionary process on other planets. Theoretically speaking, if bacteria can find a way to survive on a planet, then it is possible that planet could become habitable and life sustaining in the near future. Such a find would be the first evidence that evolutionary theorists are correct in their assumption. To find bacteria on another planet would be an extreme scientific breakthrough in both understanding our humble beginnings and also finding colonization opportunities off of planet Earth.

extraterrestrial life

What criteria are scientists using for defining life?

According to NASA, biologists have determined 6 key characteristics that define living things:

1.    Living things need to take in energy
2.    Must get rid of waste
3.    Need to grow and develop
4.    Respond to their environment
5.    Reproduce and pass their traits onto their offspring and
6.    Evolve (change slowly) over time in response to environment

See more about scientists studying our nearest planetary neighbor for life on Mars at: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/mars_life_feature_1015.html

Survival of Life on Earth

It is theorized by scientists today that our planet will not last forever. Whether we are the ones that end up destroying it or the sun explodes leaving Earth as a fragment is not really the issue. Eventually they theorize we will have to move or die out. We, as a species, do have an ingrain survival instinct that will not allow us to simply wait for our eventual extinction. This is why scientists have dedicated their lives toward the goal of finding and colonizing life sustaining planets both in and outside of our solar system. Life on other planets wouldn’t just mean we may not be alone, but it would also mean we have a fighting chance for continued survival.

To many people this search for bacteria is disappointing. There are people who would rather us send signals saying, “We come in peace” and “How are you doing today”. What many of these people don’t understand is that all living organisms are part of life. Finding bacteria on Mars could prove more beneficial for the human race than finding another civilization of alien people.

So what if we really found true alien life on another planet such as Mars? What would we do, start a war for the planet? Invade their privacy and planet in order to fulfill our own selfish agenda? Take everything of value and learn any advancement they have to teach us only to ignore them later or force them to fuse into our society as a foreign minority? Old World explorers did enough damage and harm to the people of the “New World”. Would it really benefit us to find intelligent life on other planets?