From highly trained scientists toiling away at research institutes to amateur enthusiasts gazing upward from their backyards, humanity boasts no shortage of people looking for life beyond Earth. Add to that the massive size of the Universe - estimates range in the trillions of galaxies - and probability dictates that we should have already encountered another species by now. And yet, we still have no evidence that we aren't alone in the Universe. However, according to astronomy researcher Chris Impey, this hunt for life beyond Earth may soon yield results. In an interview with Futurism, he revealed that he believes that we are less than two decades away from finding extraterrestrial life... but it may not be the kind of life we were hoping for: "I put my money on detecting microbial life in 10 to 15 years, but not at all detecting intelligent life."
While Impey is sceptical that intelligent life is within our sights, he does have a couple of suggestions as to where we should focus our search for extraterrestrial lifeforms, intelligent or not. The first is our own backyard, or, more accurately, our own Solar System. While Impey tells Futurism he doesn't rule out the possibility that life still exists on Mars, he says that those lifeforms are likely below the surface and are, therefore, much harder to detect. As such, he asserts that we have a better chance of finding evidence of life that used to exist on the Red Planet: "If we actually get Mars rocks back here to Earth from a place that we think could have been habitable in the past, then we might find evidence of prior life."
Other bodies in our Solar System could potentially host life as well, according to Impey, including the water world Europa.
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