Scientists working with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, in 2014, told Congress, “we’ll Find Alien Life in This Lifetime…” But when exactly was less certain, but then you need to consider that SETI is using a highly logical approach in their quest to find life, and more specifically intelligent life.
In 2016, Douglas Vakoch, Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, said, “I’m not holding my breath that we’ll find conclusive evidence of alien technologies before the end of 2016. But the chances are getting better with every passing year. Over the next decade, we should be able to search for radio signals from a million stars or more,” he explained. “That’s a big enough number to make it reasonable to think that we’ll find intelligent life … if it’s actually out there and trying to make contact.”
When pressed for when Vakoch added, “But within the next decade, we may well discover we’re not alone in the universe.”
“It’s unproven whether there is any life beyond Earth,” Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, said at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing Wednesday (May 21). “I think that situation is going to change within everyone’s lifetime in this room.”
Scientists search for life beyond Earth using three different methods, Shostak said. Number one is the search for microbial extraterrestrials or their remains; 2) examine the atmospheres of planets in orbit around other stars for traces of oxygen or methane or other gases that could be produced by biological processes, and 3) search for intelligent life by scouring the universe for signals in a variety of spectrums
The search is on as Shostak said that “the best estimates suggest that a reasonable chance of success would come after examining a few million star systems.” To date, less than 1 percent of those star systems. But that we speed up, “Given predicted advances in technology, looking at a few million star systems can be done in the next 20 years,” he said.
NASA’s Kepler telescope has revealed that each of the 4 billion stars in our galaxy has an average of 1.6 planets in orbit around it, with one out of five of those planets are likely to be “Earth cousins.” That means there are tens of billions of potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way alone.
“If this is the only planet on which not only life, but intelligent life, has arisen, that would be very unusual,” Shostak said.
“I suspect that the universe is teeming with microbial life,” Dan Werthimer, director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, told the committee.
“I think there are going to be some planets in the universe where it’s advantageous to be smart,” Werthimer said.