SETI scientist says humans will discover extraterrestrial life within 20 years

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A scientist at the SETI Institute in California says in the next two decades, we will discover life outside of our world.

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at SETI, the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence, said that in the next two decades, some form of life would be discovered in one of three ways: on a nearby celestial body, like Mars, with our own spacecraft; via powerful instruments that can determine if a far-away planet has an atmosphere made of oxygen, which would strongly suggest the presence of life; or via SETI, which looks for radio waves from far away worlds.

Most astronomers agree with him. And now, with a mission to Mars slated to launch later this month, that clock may be ticking.

Most likely, in the near-term, we’ll find some basic form of life, but in the not too distant future, Shoshtak said SETI will find some form of life that can be classified as “highly intelligent.”

“Whether they have arms or legs, everything else is secondary. What is important is that they are smart enough to get in touch,” he said.

Shoshtak said the major importance behind this is philosophical — it changes our point of view of life on our own planet and what it means for us.

“If you find it in one other place, it’s likely to be all over the place,” he said.

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