A census made from data collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope has estimated that Earth is only one of some 500 million planets throughout the universe that has life on it. The conclusion was drawn from data collected from scanning the deepest horizons of space and studying which planets were not too hot, not too cold, and had a likelihood of possessing similar qualities to those found on Earth. It would seem the Drake Equation has been significantly revamped and the universe is more populous than we ever thought before.
The Kepler space telescope has studied some 1,235 planets and discovered that 54 are in the “Goldilocks Zone.” The Goldilocks Zone is the distance a planet must be from the sun in order to be not too hot and not too cold for life to exist on it. Scientists then took different parameters including size and come to a startling conclusion. One out of every two stars it would seem has planets orbiting it. And of these stars with planets, one in 200 has a planet (or multiple planets) in the Goldilocks Zone. If this were the case, then a highly advanced starship traveling from star to star would likely discover a planet or two every year that had life if it were able to jump from one star to another every day and scan the system for life. A fleet of 400 ships performing the same task and jumping from one star system to the next would be able to find a new star system or two with life every day. And while this doesn’t necessarily suggest any advanced life, or even a planet that humans could inhabit, it would mean life exists elsewhere in the universe in great abundance. And how much of a feat would it be to then have that planet develop an alien creature with an incredibly advanced form of life? Well, actually it would be quite a feat. But we are finally dealing with numbers that allow that process to happen far more easily than we thought it would previously.
And so another question arises about the matter of extraterrestrial visitation. Why isn’t it on the nightly news every night that a new starship has just entered our atmosphere? It may be that faster than light travel is more difficult than we once thought. After all, even if an alien craft visited our planet a hundred million years ago, the chances of us finding any evidence for it are slim. The chances of the contact being made for the first time in the recent past while still compelling is actually not as sure of a thing as these numbers may make it out to be. But will we soon find that there is an easy way to contact extraterrestrials as they zip through space? The answer can only come with time.
And even if we were visited, if the human race is not entirely alone in the universe it may stand to reason that the visitors had visited several planets before. There may be a force at work ensuring that the Earth be allowed to develop and keeping visitors away from its inhabitants most of the time. Perhaps the aliens we hear reported on are the vessels that slip through the cracks. Who knows? But this universe certainly just got a lot more crowded.
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