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If you had hopes of finding E.T. anytime soon, one astronomer is about to burst your bubble.
Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington last month, Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronomer Sara Seager said it’s going to be a long slog before we find an advanced civilization in space.
“It’s probably something that’s going to be a slow discovery, not like the little green humanoids arriving here on Earth scaring everybody,” Seager said in comments obtained by Space.com. “It’s probably going to take a long time.”
She added that a slow discovery could potentially make it more palatable for humanity to process the discovery.
In addition to her professorship at MIT, Seager is also NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) deputy science director. TESS recently announced it would team up with the Breakthrough Listen project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
“We are very enthusiastic about joining the Breakthrough Listen SETI search,” Seager said at the time of the collaboration. “Out of all the exoplanet endeavors, only SETI holds the promise for identifying signs of intelligent life.”
A comprehensive study published in June found no evidence of extraterrestrial life among more than 1,300 stars in close proximity to Earth, a hunt that spanned more than three years.
A separate study published that month drastically cut the number of planets that could potentially host intelligent life, noting that the definition for the “habitable zone” – the distance between a planet and star – “is likely limited relative to that for microbial life.”
In October, a former NASA scientist published a stunning op-ed that said he is convinced that the space agency “found evidence of life” on Mars in the 1970s. NASA has vehemently denied this claim.
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