Yesterday we brought you the rather odd news that hacking group Anonymous thought NASA was going to announce they’d found intelligent alien life.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense hopefully quickly realized there was nothing to this story. And note, it probably wasn't even the “official” Anonymous group, if there is such a thing. But for good measure, NASA has come out and debunked it anyway.
“Contrary to some reports, there’s no pending announcement from NASA regarding extraterrestrial life,” Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said on Twitter.
“Are we alone in the universe? While we do not know yet, we have missions moving forward that may help answer that fundamental question,” he added in another tweet.
Of course, if you’re one to believe alien conspiracy theories, you’re probably not going to believe this statement from Zurbuchen. So take our word for it that this is all just some weird baloney spread by some guy or girl claiming to be part of Anonymous.
Zurbuchen is right, though. Whether we’re alone in the universe is still an open question. But we’re getting closer to answering it. In our own Solar System, we’ve found a few places – oceans under the surface of Europa and Enceladus, for instance – that might be good places for microbial life.
Elsewhere, we’re finding more and more planets that could be habitable. In the coming years, we’re going to be able to study the atmospheres of some of these planets, and hopefully find out if they have any biosignatures.
And there are also several searches underway for intelligent alien life. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been looking for signals for decades. More recently, the Breakthrough Listen project – funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner – has also joined the hunt.
The fact is, though, that we simply haven’t found anything yet. There’s no NASA-funded project looking for intelligent life, so if we did stumble across a signal, it would be one of the two aforementioned private endeavors.
That we haven’t found any life is a bit of a quandary, known as the Fermi Paradox. Planets seem to be pretty abundant in the universe, so why haven’t we found any other life yet? The answer is either we’re alone, or we haven’t looked hard enough yet.
No intelligent aliens are going to be making their way undetected into the Solar System anytime soon, though. If an alien ship does arrive on our doorstop, we’ll probably know about it. For now, we’re alone – and that’s kind of terrifying in its own right.