Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Congress Examines Efforts to Search for Life in the Universe



“It is not hyperbolic to suggest that scientists could very well discover extraterrestrial intelligence within 2 decades' time or less, given resources to conduct the search,” Seth Shostak, senior astronomer with the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, Calif., testified at a 21 May congressional hearing held by the House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He pointed to the progress in extrasolar planet discovery made possible by NASA's Kepler space telescope, the enormous number of potential planets in the Milky Way and other galaxies, the increasing power of digital electronics to find and sort out radio and other signals, and other work related to exoplanets and astrobiology. It was the committee's third hearing on astrobiology and the search for life in the universe in roughly 1 year.