For now, though, we know of only one example of life in the Universe, our own planet Earth. The next generation of telescopes offers the tantalizing possibility that signs of biochemistry might be detected in the atmospheres of planets around other stars, and if simple life were to be detected directly elsewhere in our Solar System, such as on Mars or on Jupiter’s moon Europa, this would help us figure out what fraction of habitable planets develop life. In parallel with these efforts, though, SETI will continue. Dr. Korpela is not discouraged that the search so far has come up empty-handed.
“We haven’t searched all that much of what’s available. If you’re talking about what our biggest telescope can see or transmit, you’re talking about going out a thousand light years. That’s a tiny fraction of the Galaxy, which is 100,000 light years across. We’ve also only looked at a tiny fraction of the available frequencies that we could potentially look at. There’s more places we haven’t looked than we have looked. It’ll be a long time before we can say we’ve done a thorough job. But we’ll let you know if we find something!”