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Astronomy: Looking for Life Out There The line “E.T. phone home.” was an infamous statement uttered by an extraterrestrial in Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. Astronomers
there are mammals. Donahue. Bennett. with the advent of highly advanced technology. Earth and its Characteristics that Sustain Life People ask about the quality of Earth that enables it to support life. and Voit said that life only needs three basic prerequisites to exist: energy source either from the sun or any other means such as chemical and heat. and water. Schneider. insects. that extraterrestrial life exists somewhere in the universe. this is only applicable for humans. reptiles. as scientists believe. Scientists continue to learn about the vast universe and make great efforts to find extraterrestrial life. The physical characteristic of Earth is made for that. Earth is a planet capable of sustaining life.) Order – life forms on Earth have a specific arrangement of cell formation.have great belief that life exists in the outer space. Earth has sustained life for over a million years and it is a great possibility. nutrients coming from elements and other compounds. perfect temperature condition (not too hot and not too cold). Today. and so forth. and searching for alien life forms is an undying fascination. However. Life forms on Earth share the following six characteristics: 1. and the rest is history until the Earth was formed. When the universe started so did time. a lot of living creatures have evolved from a mere single-cell organism. and the usual answer they get are: the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere. . Through time. they are not a random collection of cells. In 2012. and the abundance of various food sources.
on the other hand.) Reproduction – Living creatures are able to produce life through reproduction 3.) Energy Use – Living creatures utilize energy to sustain their activities 5. 6.) Growth and Development – Living creatures grow and develop according to their hereditary roots. Theories on the Origin of Life There are several theories on the genesis of life. a primary building block of life. As an example.2. argues that life began from frozen ice formations. One particular theory is the interaction between lightning and methane which caused amino acids. Another particular theory of note is the formation of RNA. living organisms evolves to a better form by passing on traits and characteristics that can enable their species to survive as time pass by. life’s most basic element is RNA . According to this theory. 4.) Evolutionary Adaptation – Via natural selection. There is also one theory about life starting from hydrothermal vents under the sea – the hydrogen coming out of those vents where believed to be the source of life. Another is the theory about the combination of minerals and clay on the ground which set the stage for the first living cells. to form in the atmosphere. Other. living creatures can alter their metabolism depending on the availability of food source.) Environmental Response – Living creatures have the ability to respond to changes within their environment. before every life form has DNS.
life on Earth have evolved dramatically. On the book Natural Selection (2000). Others thought that life on Earth was given to us from outer space. it was stated that Darwin used the concept of his theory to convince majority of the scientists to accept the general notion about evolution. stating that life arrived here through the meteorites and comets crashing on the Earth’s crust.although there is no clear explanation on how RNA came about. This theory was proposed Charles Darwin in 1859 in his book the Origin of Species. Life on Earth: Evolution through the Last Three Billion Years Over the last three billion years. The general idea is that species change their adaptive behavior in response to the changes to their environment through favoring of traits that are necessary for them to adapt. There are beliefs that small elements and molecules joined together and kept evolving until it become life we have known today. The Natural Selection The Natural Selection is a theory which states that organism continuously develops characteristics that are beneficial for its specie to survive through time. A proof of this are the fossils of different creatures . The theories stated above are some of the common theories known to man. This is achieved through some sort of mutation which enables the species to evolve and be better suited to their current than their ancestors. but there are actually no clear facts that prove the exact origin of life. each era on earth has witnessed bizarre creatures different from the other the eras. while at the same time getting rid of the ones that are not helpful.
the first ever wide diversity of life species existed during the Paleozoic era (400 to 550 million years ago). Earth is the only planet in our Solar System capable of supporting life. plants and fungi throughout the land. 000 larger than the Amazon River . 1990). mammals and dinosaurs first appeared during the Mesozoic era. birds and so forth. not to mention the whole of the universe.believed to have existed a long time ago. On the other hand. On the other hand. Mercury. However. The Possibility of Life in the Outer Space With the universe so vast. The oldest fossil (which implies the existence of life during the early years of the earth) that has been discovered is said to be approximately 3. The oldest eukaryotic fossils existed during the Proterozoic eon (550 to 2. creatures such as dinosaurs. According to observations made by Scientists. due to its closeness to the sun. It is after this era that hominid mammals started to roam the land. this time is known as the Quaternary period. The Mesozoic era is primarily characterized by the existence of the dinosaurs until the K-T (65 million years ago) event which caused their extinction. and Saturn are mostly gaseous (Graham.5 billion years ago). is way too hot. it is highly probable that extraterrestrial life exists. there are different animals. Meanwhile. there are a lot of solar systems in our galaxy alone. Jupiter. A planet may exist somewhere out there that is similar to Earth. Mars appear to have canals – some of which are said to be 10. which is about 210-230 million years ago. a period in time where oxygen began to accumulate in the atmosphere of the Earth. giant retiles.5 billion years of age.
today. the big question is “What happens next?” As of the moment. its current atmospheric pressure condition is too low for us human beings to live into. These evidences stir hope that life might exist in the outer space. the operation they are concerning themselves right now is to receive signals. 2011). When that occurs. scientists prefer not to send out signals to the outer space. looking for signs of life out there seem impossible. there are a group of people who have devoted their time and expertise for this very cause. scientists are concerned if they will be able to understand what the message is. 2011). In case a connection is made. Although it is extremely iterating to come face to face with extraterrestrial life. with the help of highly advanced technology. 2011).in terms of water capacity and flow – that seem to have been made by the torrents of water flowing through them. doing so might put Earth at risk. it usually takes just minutes. it may put the people of Earth in danger because there is a possibility that the aliens can do us harms (Folger. although there are solid evidences suggesting the existence of water in Mars. . It is estimated that there are around 200 billion galaxies in the universe and with this unimaginable amount. Moreover. Professionals from SETI believe that other life forms in the Universe will be found sooner than expected (Folger. However. According to Graham (1990). they are the people of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) (Cain. A few years ago it would take weeks to find and locate galactic signals. 2009) (Folger.
Efforts of the Humans to Locate Alien Intelligence SETI is the well-known organization whose mission is to search for extraterrestrial life out in the universe. In order to realize this. it can search for other extraterrestrial activities. understand. 2012. This telescope is capable of detecting signals or laser beacons originating from places in the universe that are millions of light-years away from Earth. they will be provided a substantial progress in their search for life out there. 1). Para. the organization relies heavily on new technologies that they can integrate with their observing facilities. which is a telescope classified as Large Number of Small Dishes (LNSD).” Meanwhile. One of the tools is called the Allen Telescope Array (ATA). In gathering information about possible life forms in the outer space. This telescope is immensely effective in gathering data about radio astronomy (SETI. By doing so. and explain the origin. . another telescope made of nickel equipped with a new pulse –detection system. Also. Another tool that they are using is the Optical SETI. One of the primary goals of SETI is to find and Earth-like planet which may be able to sustain life. which are the Projects Division and the Research and Development Division. the organization’s whole operation is divided into two divisions. SETI is using three different tools that are very helpful in their search. nature. The Optical SETI is an effective tool to find evidences because its false alarm rate is very low. and prevalence of life in the universe. The organization’s mission. is “to explore. as stated in their publication SETI (2012).
One hope that people on Earth hold onto is the existence of water – a primary ingredient in sustaining life – in Mars.Lastly. Scientist’s primary basis is the properties of Earth which makes it able to sustain life. For so many years. is the Drake Equation. Conclusion There are a lot of theories pertaining to the existence of life – from the genesis of humankind on Earth to the origin of the Universe itself. The contribution of these three tools in searching evidence of extraterrestrial is indispensable to mankind. or rather an algorithm. the third tool. there is really a great possibility of life out there and these organizations are up to that job. there are several organizations that have devoted themselves into searching for this most-wanted life existence. . This equation is capable of estimating how much highly advanced civilizations exist in our galaxy. In an effort to locate life other than the human civilization. Today. With the universe so vast. the search for extraterrestrial life has been an on-going mission.
Extraterrestrial Life in the Universe. In Reader's Guide to the History of Science. Retrieved from http://www. (2011).com/30305/how-many-galaxies-in-the-universe/ Choi.ntrs. San Francisco.blogspot. (2011. F.com/entry/routhistscie nce/natural_ selection .com. Q. & Voit.pdf .credoreference. How Many Galaxies in the Universe. http://ntrs. URL. (2009). N. C. Academic Search Complete. Seven Theories on the Origin of Life. (2011). 304(1). Retrieved from http://www.. NASA Technical Memorandum 102363. Natural Selection.ezproxy.apollolibrary. Retrieved from: http://rkbentley.com/2012/02/7-theories-on-origin-of-life. Scientific American.nasa.html Folger.gov/19900013148_19900131 48. The Cosmic Perspective (6th ed. Retrieved from: http://www. C.livescience. R..).Reference Bennett.. T. CA: Pearson Addison-Wesley Cain. (1990. Schneider. Contact the day after.gov/archive/nasa/casi. January). 40-45.html Choi. Q.nasa.universetoday. (2010).com/13363-7-theories-origin-life. Donahue. February). Graham. W. M. M. Seven Theories on the Origin of Life. (2000). J.
SETI Institution (2012). Our Mission. The Allen Telescope Array. Retrieved from: http://www. Retrieved from: http://www.org/about-us SETI Institution (2012).org/ata .seti.seti.
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