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Are we looking hard enough for aliens? Astronomer says no

Published May 2nd, 2017 7:30PM EDT
science news

Finding existing extraterrestrial life would undoubtedly be one of the crowning achievements of the human race, but with so much talk of the potential for life on exoplanets many light-years away, one astronomer is asking why we aren’t looking harder for evidence of aliens right here in our own solar system. Penn State astronomy professor Jason Wright has written a paper suggesting that maybe we need to shift our focus from the deep cosmos and simply take a closer look in our own celestial backyard.

In his writings, Wright implores scientists to consider the idea that evidence of extraterrestrial life might be right under our noses. Wright, who doesn’t take a stance on whether or not he believes intelligent life indeed existed in our own solar system or abroad before humanity, says that looking for the leftovers from technological species who resided here might actually be easier to find than biological evidence including microbes.

“Searches for alien artifacts in the Solar System typically presumes that such artifacts would be of extrasolar origin, even though life is known to have existed in the Solar System, on Earth, for eons,” Wright notes. “But if a prior technological, perhaps spacefaring, species ever arose in the Solar System, it might have produced artifacts or other technosignatures that have survived to present day.”

Wright flags Venus and Mars as potential locations where intelligent life might have spawned, developed, and then gone extinct or simply left, and even suggests that Earth might hold secrets of an ancient but advanced civilization that has since been lost to the shifting of continents, plate tectonics, and erosion.