Over the years, BBC Future has covered a wide range of stories about what life might look like on other worlds and the implications of alien discovery. As we kick off a week of special alien coverage – all to mark the upcoming 60th anniversary of the BBC’s most famous alien life form, Doctor Who – we’ve picked out some of our favorite facts about aliens.
Our lucky scrape of life from the outsidespace
The moon, as we now know, is a dead place. But before the Apollo 11 astronauts landed there, we couldn’t be 100% sure. In fact, there was a serious possibility that the three men on the mission had brought alien bugs with them.
When the Apollo capsule landed on the sea after its lunar journey, strict anti-pollution measures were in place to prevent the spread of alien life on Earth. The astronauts were supposed to remain inside, with the door closed, until they entered quarantine. But it was hot and uncomfortable, and the waves were swaying, so they were allowed to open the door.
If moonbugs king They could have taken this opportunity to enter the Pacific Ocean. It could, in principle, be catastrophic for life on Earth. Fortunately for us, that did not happen.
Read more about Moments that could have accidentally ended humanity In this article by Richard Fisher
Ocean moons may be the best places to find alien life
Many of our solar system’s moons are thought to have seas that are uncannily similar to our own — salty and heated by hydrothermal vents. Now, scientists believe these lunar oceans could be the best places to look for extraterrestrial life.
Jupiter’s moon Europa, for example, is thought to contain more liquid water than all of Earth’s oceans combined, while Saturn’s moon Enceladus emits huge plumes of water that indicate hydrothermal vents at the bottom of its ocean.
If these vents prove to be similar to deep ocean vents found on Earth, that could be important. This is one of the strongest candidates for where life on Earth is believed to have begun.
Other moons with the potential for life include Jupiter’s Callisto and Ganymede, and Saturn’s Titan. Several major space missions are being planned over the next decade to search for signs of life in alien oceans. But what kind of life can we discover?
Find it outside What life might look like in alien oceansRead this article by Miko Tatalović.
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