“If I had to describe myself to an alien I’d say I was bigger than the average human, enjoy a drink or two with a good meal and have a bigger head than most. I’d also say I’m really handsome — especially if they were a female alien.” -Dwayne Johnson

The Earth, to the best of our knowledge, is the only inhabited world we have. The ingredients for life may be everywhere, from asteroids to nebulae to exoplanets and more, but so far, only Earth is confirmed to have life. While Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars at the right distance for liquid water on their surface might seem like the best place to look for life, we don’t necessarily need to go that far.

The flow of a dried-up riverbed is an unmistakable signature of a water-rich past on Mars. Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum).

Right here in our own cosmic backyard, our own solar system boasts eight potential candidates for worlds with life on them today. Some of them are planets, like Mars and Venus; others are moons, like Europa and Titan; even asteroids like Ceres or Kuiper belt objects like Pluto get in on the action. The life that might be present might not look like most of life on Earth, but unless we look at the likely locations of biological activity in situ, we simply won’t know for certain.

The Voyager 2 spacecraft took this color photo of Neptune’s moon Triton on Aug. 24 1989, at a range of 330,000 miles. The image was made from pictures taken through the green, violet and ultraviolet filters. Image credit: NASA / JPL.

Come find out all eight possible locations, and see if you can come up with a better possibility than any of these!

Comments

  1. #1 Denier
    July 21, 2017

    @Ethan wrote:

    5.) Venus.

    You’ve posited this idea before. Yes the temperature in the upper atmosphere isn’t bad but that in and of itself just isn’t enough. I just don’t see it as possible.

    Rather than Venus, I’d go with Jupiter. The possibility of life on Jupiter is one I take from the late great Carl Sagan. Jellyfish-like creatures kilometers across may be far fetched but they’re infinitely more believable than anything living on Venus.

    https://youtu.be/uakLB7Eni2E

  2. #2 Carl
    July 21, 2017

    I take it as a challenge, after we’ve looked thoroughly for life, to ensure there IS life on every body you’ve discussed.

    No more sterilized probes. Instead, pollute them with every extremophile, bacteria, single & multi-cellular critter and infect ’em all. We don’t have the patience to terraform, and we might not last 100,000 years, but we can try to give life a foothold.

    Who knows? A billion years from now, there may be a sentience wondering how all our planets developed life. And fulfilling some of our wild sci-fi scenarios…

    Just like the universe is unimaginably huge, time is unimaginably long. There could be thousands of eruptions of space-faring beings in the future for Sol and its planets. Fun times!

  3. #3 Carl
    July 21, 2017

    (18M years in the future, giant armed Tardigrades storm the cavern-fortresses of Titan… Damn! I gotta break out my old classic sci-fi and re-read some Heinlein, or even Doc Smith!)

  4. #4 jimbob
    July 21, 2017

    never will alien life be discovered in the universe the universe was all made by God for man

  5. #5 MobiusKlein
    July 22, 2017

    Jimbob, I don’t grasp why microbes on Mars would contradict the idea that the Universe was made for Man.
    Microbes exist on Earth too after all.

  6. #6 Paweł
    Switzerland
    July 23, 2017

    I cannot find any information on “black smokers” volcanoes on Triton. Sure, there is volcanic activity there, but what makes them similar to black smokers?

  7. #7 jimbob
    July 23, 2017

    To date no proof has been found of past or present life on Mars. However, cumulative evidence is now building that the ancient surface environment of Mars had liquid water and may have been habitable for microorganisms. The existence of habitable conditions does not necessarily indicate the presence of life.

    God Created everything in 6 days its was all made to sustain life on earth alien life will never be discovered

  8. #8 Sean T
    July 24, 2017

    jimbob,

    “The existence of habitable conditions does not necessarily indicate the presence of life”

    That might very well be the first thing you’ve posted on here that wasn’t complete nonsense. That is a true statement, but it also does not mean that there is no life anywhere but earth. The existence of habitable conditions is certainly a necessary condition for life, but not a sufficient one.

    Of course we need to be careful when discussing “habitable conditions” so that we don’t limit it to life as we know it on earth. It is quite possible (and the article certainly recognizes this), that life could arise in an entirely different fashion in conditions that would be anything but habitable for earth-bound life.

  9. #9 Sean T
    July 24, 2017

    BTW jimbob, even granting for the sake of argument the literal truth of the Bible, that in no way implies that there cannot be alien life elsewhere. The Bible discusses the creation of life on earth, but nowhere does it actually say that the earth is in any way unique. Could not your God have created another life-bearing planet somewhere far enough away from earth that we have not yet detected its presence?

    If earth was the be-all end-all, why did your God create the rest of the universe anyway? Why even bother to create the other planets in the solar system? Why even bother with the sun? Surely an omnipotent creator could figure out a way to keep the earth warm without putting a fusion reactor nearby? Why not just create laws of physics that did not require increasing entropy so that the earth would never lose its heat to outer space? That would certainly cut down on various melanomas anyway.

    What I cannot comprehend is that if you are going to believe in an omniscient and omnipotent God, why you feel the need to insist that this God is concerned only with a single relatively insignificant planet when there is all the vast universe out there for Him to deal with.

  10. #10 jimbob
    July 24, 2017

    Extraterrestrial life is an evolutionary concept; it does not comport with the biblical teachings of the uniqueness of the earth and the distinct spiritual position of human beings. Of all the worlds in the universe, it was the earth that God Himself visited, taking on the additional nature of a human being, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead in order to redeem all who would trust in Him. The biblical worldview sharply contrasts with the secular worldview when it comes to alien life. do modern observations support the secular notion that the universe is teeming with life, or the biblical notion that earth is unique?

    So far, no one has discovered life on other planets or detected any radio signals from intelligent aliens. This is certainly what a biblical creationist would expect. Secular astronomers continue to search for life on other worlds, but they have found only rocks and inanimate matter. Their radio searches are met with silence. The real world is the biblical world—a universe designed by God with the earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life.

  11. #11 Sean T
    July 26, 2017

    jimbob,

    What makes you think a universe without life except on earth is in any way inconsistent with a secular worldview? The conditions under which life on earth arose might well be unique or the probability of some event that is needed for life to form might well be very small.

    Further, while the Bible is merely a collection of mythology from a sheep-herding Bronze Age tribe in the Middle East, let’s pretend that there’s actual truth to the stories. The Bible does say that God created the earth. It also says that God created “the heavens”, whatever that means. Let’s assume it means that God created all the other galaxies, stars, planets, etc. that are out there. It says that God created humans and all other life on earth.

    So far, I am sure (except for that first sentence) that you can agree with me. But is the Bible complete? Of course not. Show me in the Bible where there is a discussion of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, for example. Show me the discussion of the expansion of the universe and the red shift of distant galaxies. Show me where it discusses the creation of viruses and bacteria. Are you doubting any of these things exist because the Bible does not mention them?

    The Bible says that God created man and sent Jesus to die for man’s sins. It does NOT say that God ONLY created man and that Jesus ONLY went to earth to die for man’s sins. What if someday intelligent life IS discovered on another planet? Are you then going to give up your beliefs and admit that the Bible is false? I highly doubt it; you will do as has been done with just about every other scientific advance that has seemingly contradicted the Bible. You will simply reinterpret what it is that you think the Bible says. You are welcomed; I have already given you that reinterpretation that you’ll need if intelligent life is discovered elsewhere.

  12. #12 jimbob
    July 26, 2017

    Those who believe life evolved on the earth usually see it as virtual ‘fact’ that life has evolved on countless other planets. Discovering life on other planets would in turn be seen as confirming their evolutionary belief.

    Firstly, since God is the one who made the universe, it can scarcely be ‘big’ to Him. Humans struggle with its vastness because our comprehension is limited to the created time/space dimensions within which we exist, and it is mind-bending to try and comprehend anything beyond our dimensional existence. Size is only relative to us as inhabitants of this universe. And size and time are related somewhat. Because the universe is big to us we consider how long it would take us to travel across it, for example. But, time itself began with the creation of the physical universe, so how can we comprehend what eternity is, or might be? What was ‘before’ the universe? Similarly, how do we imagine how ‘big’ God is? We cannot use a tape measure that is made of the very atoms He made to measure Him. One example of this might be if you were asked to build a small house and you did. Now you are asked to build a large house. In our dimensions, for you to build the larger house it would require more effort and take more time. So, is it harder, or does it take longer for God to build a big universe compared to a smaller one (according to our perspective on what constitutes large or small of course)? Of course not, because He isn’t bound by time and space (which He created). Isaiah 40:28 says; ‘… the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not grow weak nor weary …’.

  13. #13 jimbob
    July 26, 2017

    Psalm 19:1 tells us a major reason that the universe is so vast: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.’ There are many similar passages in Scripture. They help us understand who God is and how powerful He is.

    It reminds us that the more we discover about this incredible universe, the more we should be in awe of the One who made it all. In short rather than looking up and wondering ‘I wonder what else is out there?’ and imaginary aliens we’ve never seen. We should instead be considering the very One that made it all.

  14. #14 Sean T
    July 27, 2017

    So no answer jimbob? Where does it say God ONLY created man? Where does it say that Jesus ONLY came to earth and not somewhere else? That may be what you want to believe and it certainly seems to be what you do believe, but where does it actually say this in the Bible?