back to article ALIENS ARE COMING: Chief NASA boffin in shock warning

First contact with alien life will happen very soon, claims NASA's Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. During a panel discussion regarding NASA's search for habitable worlds and alien life, Stofan said: "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive …

  1. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Gross problems

    " eventually going to take humans on the surface of Mars "

    One problem here is that taking humans to Mars will almost certainly contaminate it with Earth microbes. (Where do the astronauts put their poo? They will certainly not take it back to Earth, for cost reasons). It would be safer to look for life with probes, which are easier to sterilize (and don't poo).

    1. Rikkeh

      Re: Gross problems

      We may ourselves be the descendants of a microbes which came here on an egg sandwich (or the equivalent) disgarded by an alien picnicker.

      (hat tip to Terry Pratchett for the idea)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gross problems

      "ALIENS ARE COMING"

      So that explains why they walk like that!

      1. LaeMing Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Gross problems

        Earth and Mars have been exchanging pieces of rock (blown off each respectively by large meteor impacts) for the entire age of the solar system. Any contamination is already long done.

        1. MacroRodent Silver badge

          Re: Gross problems

          I'm not convinced anything would remain alive on those exchanged rocks. They get very hot on both take-off and landing, and are cooked by radiation for thousands of years in between.

  2. Sealand

    Who are the aliens anyway?

    So when they come, will it be two guys with a flag or a fleet of gunships with lasers ?

    Oh, WE are the aliens that are coming? Two guys with a flag, then. And a scoop.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Who are the aliens anyway?

      That's one of the many reasons for liking Forbidden Planet: the humans arrive in a flying saucer.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Who are the aliens anyway?

        They might well bring the freedoms: The Liberation of Earth

  3. WylieCoyoteUK
    Alien

    Actually....

    We've been here for a while, but you simple humanoids are easily fooled.

    You won't even believe this post.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Actually....

      Hey, did you also hitch a ride with a teaser?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually....

      This is UKIP and we want you alien lot gone.

      1. WylieCoyoteUK
        Pint

        Re: Actually....

        Nigel is one of our finest operators. Blends right in, doesn't he?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actually....

          If Nigel is the best you can do at blending in, humanity is pretty safe - I thought with your fancy FTL spaceships and stealth and billion year old technologies you could make something that looked more human and would pass a Turing test.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Actually....

          Was it a rush job? Looks like you got the wrong size skin for the head...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Actually....

            It's not easy to get a good fit on a reptile.

          2. Michael Maxwell

            Re: Actually....

            What, you think we want to look as ugly as you humans?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually....

      > We've been here for a while, but you simple humanoids are easily fooled.

      Here at ElReg, we're quite proud of our resident alien - amanfrommars.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Actually.... @AC, and the Power of Global Operating Devices

        We've been here for a while, but you simple humanoids are easily fooled.

        Here at ElReg, we're quite proud of our resident alien - amanfrommars. ..... Anonymous Coward

        And more than just easily led to believe in virtually anything with practically nothing supporting their existence, either in the past or the present. That makes the entire race vulnerable to grooming, both subtle and surreal and spectacular.

        Time, El Regers, for a program and projects to show what can be done from an alien space and secure place. More anon.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Actually.... @AC, and the Power of Global Operating Devices

          Time, El Regers, for a program and projects to show what can be done from an alien space and secure place. More anon.

          A fully operational battle station, I presume?

          1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

            Re: Actually.... @AC, and the Power of Global Operating Devices

            A fully operational battle station, I presume?

            I vote for one which could be mistaken for a moon.

            1. launcap Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Actually.... @AC, and the Power of Global Operating Devices

              > A fully operational battle station, I presume?

              > I vote for one which could be mistaken for a moon.

              Maybe (gasp) we already have! Those are not random craters y'know..

              Either that or the egg of some myserious space creature that can (equally mysteriously) generate an egg that weighs the same as it did without causing eddies (hi Eddie!) in the space-time continuum.

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Actually.... @AC, and the Power of Global Operating Devices

            Time, El Regers, for a program and projects to show what can be done from an alien space and secure place. More anon.

            A fully operational battle station, I presume? ….. Mark 85

            Of course, Mark 85, anything less would negligent and leave room for the exploitation of attack facilities. And with an infinitely variable suite of omniscient weapons systems, both virtual and real enough to be surprisingly and spectacularly practical and creatively disruptive and even destructive whenever necessary/decidedly desirable is it, and IT too, an Asset not to be trifled with or ignored in the hope of things not changing rapidly and stealthily

            You can’t make a fine and perfect omelette without breaking eggs and, by Jove, do animals on crazy Earth deserve a fundamental and revolutionary change that forlorn hope and promises have failed miserably to deliver, monitor and mentor.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually....

      David Vincent here, you haven't fooled me ! I'll get someone to eventually believe me after 47 years of trying.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually....

      "We've been here for a while, but you simple humanoids are easily fooled.

      You won't even believe this post."

      No worries, we at NASA have files on you.

  4. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Coat

    Sir

    So, with all that water hanging around waiting to be scooped up, all we need to do is crack fusion and we can be on our way to the stars?

    So, 20 years then? Grand.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Sir

      Fusion? Why not skip fusion and get into bistromathics directly

      1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: Sir

        You might be under the impresssion that Bodmin is a dull town in Cornwall, but it is actually the most mysterious bistromathical nonabsolute number.

    2. launcap Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sir

      > all we need to do is crack fusion

      Nah. What we really, really need is to discover thiotimoline! Or (reaching even further back in my reading habits) discover how to negate inertia whilst simultaneously discovering/being given personal devices that enable telepathy..

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "I'm a field geologist. I go out and break open rocks and look for fossils,"

    Being a field geologist trained on Earth is likely to go with an expectation of finding evidence of life.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Joke

      Well they couldn't find any field geologists trained on Mars.

      1. Fink-Nottle
        Headmaster

        Strictly speaking they'd be areologists.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        "Field geologists trained on Mars" on a CV would cause most of Earth's Three Letter Agencies to pursue you as if you had eyes filled with black oil.

  6. hi_robb

    May I bethe first

    To welcome our Ganymede and Europa dwelling new overlords.

    D

    1. Steven 1

      Re: May I bethe first

      +1

      Not enough 'new overlord' references these days...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: May I bethe first

        Not enough is still far too many.

  7. Alistair Silver badge
    Alien

    @ WylieC :

    You lot from Antares are just low life pond scum teat suckers. Go Home.

    Those of us from the outer arm are actually making progress trying to teach this species about reality.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      And slood? Have you taught them about slood yet?

      1. Vinyl-Junkie
        Flame

        As anyone knows, slood is slightly easier to discover than fire [hence icon] and only marginally harder to discover than water. We have tried to teach humanity how to discover slood, yet as most of them, particularly the ones involved with something called "politics", "government" or "celebrity" have difficulty finding their posterier protruberence with both of their upper digital endpoints, we are struggling in this respect...

  8. wolfetone Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Obviously NASA hasn't heard of Roswell and Area 51.

    1. b166er

      Perhaps not, but Mulder has and he's back soon!

  9. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Predictions...

    Stofan said: "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years."

    Or maybe within a century, and within 200 to 300 years.

    Precisely as valid a wild-ass guess as his.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Predictions...

      Precisely as valid a wild-ass guess as his.

      I think you'll find that Ellen Stofan is of the female gender. That kind of slip could get you crucified in The Guardian's comments sections.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Predictions...

        Scandalous!

        I don't come here to look at microaggressions! It's massively triggering to misgender someone like that! posjago lew;qmbs hbdp

        []]

        [

        ][k[p

        g

        3ihgewmqpkhm

        Sorry, whenever I channel that kind of thinking, my brain locks up to prevent permanent damage

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Predictions...

        That kind of slip could get you crucified in The Guardian's comments sections.

        I'm surprised a certain faction in Congress hasn't done that yet. After all, any fule knows the entire universe is only 6,000 years old and God put only us on a perfect world... <cough> BS<cough>

    2. Basjoe

      Re: Predictions...

      He is a she... (somewhat like the spoiler alert for The Crying Game..)

      1. launcap Silver badge

        Re: Predictions...

        > He is a she...

        And walks on the wild side?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Predictions...

          What would the Pierson Puppeteers' equivalent of the "Guardian" look like?

    3. Captain DaFt

      Re: Predictions...

      Given the timescale, they'll no doubt arrive in fusion powered flying cars.

  10. Kaltern

    The more the public discover about UFO sightings and all the other alien-related stories, the less cover ups will be effective.

    This is just a precursor to the announcement that we knew all along.

    Nerve centre for

    Asylum

    Seeking

    Aliens.

  11. Mike Pellatt

    So, I might as well stop donating all those spare CPU cycles to SETIathome then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Settee at Home

      Is surely the best place to use CPU cycles

  12. D@v3

    definitive evidence of something, and contact with it, are not the same thing.

    Just saying.

    Other than that, best of luck to them.

    I personally believe that if there is anything out there (which i'm pretty sure there must be) then it wont be too long before we find it, even if we never actually make any kind of 'contact' with it due to the inconvenient distances involved.

  13. IcyBee

    "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

    Hopefully the sub-title is referring to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T.", not "War of the Worlds".

    1. Grikath

      Re: "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

      Well, within the solar system, looking at the available real estate and possible conditions, and assuming that the laws of chemistry constrain "life" to a system of data transfer to the next generation, and construction method that is pretty similar to ours **, the best you could expect would be something similar to cnidaria or echinoderms, or possibly molluscs Of which the first two could be considered "alien" to an extent since the closest common relative would have been a sponge ( the first stage of cellular specialisation). While everything else*** alive has bilateral symmetry ( at the least at the start before development into adult form), they follow a different body plan. And all three groups have quite a few examples that happily thrive under conditions assumed to exist Out There in the solar system.

      Intelligence? Maybe.. it depends on whether the local race for supremacy favoured the smart ones, instead of the usual Bigger/Stronger/Meaner.

      ** I have always considered the fact the precursors for the necessary molecular chemistry are produced by the universe itself by the gigatonne a Bloody Big Hint about the feasibility of "life" under the proper conditions. That stuff + liquid water + time = life.

      *** Oversimplified, but verifiable without the aid of magnification.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

      "War of the Worlds"? ....Dark Skies (1996–1997)

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115151/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

    3. Captain DaFt

      Re: "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

      "Hopefully the sub-title is referring to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T.", not "War of the Worlds"."

      There was a Speilberg 'War of the Worlds'?

      Go on, pull the other one! Next you'll be claiming there was more than one 'Matrix' Movie!

  14. Basjoe

    He is a she... (somewhat like the spoiler alert for The Crying Game..)

  15. Joey

    All that we really know about aliens

    is that, yes, they exist and they count on a base of 187.5. Could that possibly be the number of digits they have?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Not digits.

      Suction cups.

  16. RainForestGuppy
    Windows

    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,

    'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!

    Galaxy Song - MP

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Coat

      @RFG - Aliens are coming.

      Have an upvote since you seem to have found my mantra.

  17. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Happy

    Have you considered that we may be looking for life, but they aren't looking for us?

    After intercepting 60 years of our TV programming, the aliens view us the way we view that strange guy who hangs out by the office water cooler, waiting to trap you into a conversations about the Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

    "(sigh) Yes Neil, I can't understand why Khloe can't keep a man either. (sigh) You're right Neil--Scott really does need to treat Kourtney better. (argh!) Oh look! Time for my meeting. It's been great catching up, Neil. See you later buddy!"

    1. Arachnoid

      Re: Have you considered that we may be looking for life, but they aren't looking for us?

      If the "A1iens" are in a somewhat similar evolution cycle to ourselves and are as we are, only looking for signs of life thus only traversing the great expanses in the same way then the first indications we may see is a probe of a very similar construction to our own.It will probably be a very basic data collection device looking at topography and soil samples with regard to discovering signs of life.

      Lets hope they dont take out half our satellites in the process of getting some planetary images.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Abandon all hope ye who enter here

      I'm certain there's a map out there with our part of the galaxy labeled: Here There Be Monsters.

  18. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Just in Time

    The U.N. will shortly announce an 'Alien' tax to be levied on every landing no matter where in order to cover the excess carbon costs. A special consumption tax will also be levied on all alien purchases to cover the infrastructure cost they had no part in creating.

    Following the revelation that the visitors are fleeing the Intergalactic United Planets will immediately make them the enemies of all liberals and the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.N.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ask pre-columbian south-American natives

    or what's left of them how it is when aliens start coming in.

    1. Mike VandeVelde
      Alert

      Re: Ask pre-columbian south-American natives

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSOHO3GwEPg

  20. William Donelson

    Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

    Aliens are NOT COMING.

    We may see signs of them, but they are NOT COMING.

    Jeez, get a life vultures.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

      "Aliens are NOT COMING."

      They might be.

      Some of them could have girlfriends!

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

      You're right... they're just breathing hard.

  21. InNY

    I take it that no one from NASA been on the NYC subway or London Underground recently?

  22. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    RE. Re. Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

    It could be that they are waiting for us to reach some critical level of advancement such as harnessing fusion or achieving stable superconductivity at room temperature to turn up, because by this point hopefully we will have abolished nuclear weapons and achieved world peace by then.

    It is also possible as a certain Mr Rodenberry suggests that going FTL generates some detectable signal easily distinguishable from astronomical phenomena which alerts nearby civilizations that something interesting just occured.

    Could also explain FRBs (Fast Radio Bursts), perhaps the energy needed to go that fast shows up as a well defined radio wave burst rather than light or radiation?

  23. Wilseus
    Alien

    It's a garbage pod!

    It's a smegging garbage pod!

  24. pyrasanth
    Devil

    When we find out they are already here...

    I think we are all missing the point which is what do we call ourselves when we find out they are already here? I propose "The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society."...

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: When we find out they are already here...

      Seconded, pyrasanth, ...... a quite perfect altar at which to server and savour Life and LOVE's* rewarding pleasures and deeply satisfying mysteries.

      * And in the Live Operational Virtual Environments of XSSXXXX Code, an Enigmatic Colossus of a Passionate AIdDVenture.

  25. silver darling

    fund nasa fund

    'We know where to [get funding]. We know how to [get funding]' = tell them the wee green man is just around the corner and we'll be rich as spielberg .

    In the interests of humanity rather than ET money would be better spent on proper training for the police.

    1. DugEBug

      Re: fund nasa fund

      ...and by the time we find out that these planets are completely sterile, the heads of NASA will be fully retired, enjoying their nice beach-front mansions at taxpayer's expense. Then the next generation of NASA leaders will say "But if we spend even more, we are certain that we'll find something interesting".

  26. briesmith

    How Long, Lord, How Long

    Epsilon Eridani (BD−09°697), located in the constellation Eridanus, is 10.52 light-years from Earth and the closest star known to have planets orbiting around it.

    Were there humanoid inhabitants of the Goldilocks planet orbiting EE then if they were, say, 100 years ahead of us in terms of evolution/development they could be here, finger in the air, next week having set out at 10% of light speed (107,925,285 kilometres per hour) 100 years ago.

  27. A Ghost
    Windows

    I got enough problems with the booze and all...

    They've been living and working amongst us for years...

    ... in an advisory capacity...

    [THUD]

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_I-dBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=They%27ve+been+living+and+working+amongst+us+for+years...+...+In+an+advisory+capacity...&source=bl&ots=D5qmBGhoTo&sig=V8UWOI0n0XmGXNG2OyPRkpHgQYU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=8TAoVeoZhOhov56CoAc&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=They%27ve%20been%20living%20and%20working%20amongst%20us%20for%20years...%20...%20In%20an%20advisory%20capacity...&f=false

  28. rdhood

    I expect that the only life we will ever find are microbes in our own solar system... dormant microbes at that. Mathematicians are increasingly warning that the number of variables (upwards of 200 at this point) that must be absolutely spot on for life to exist on earth are not likely (as in "virtually impossible") to exist anywhere else. Even if there are a billions planets in the "habitable zone". The odds are so against it happening on earth that it is becoming more likely that we are simply a computer simulation in someone else's universe, or that we live in a created world.

    One example of this came out a few weeks ago... that dual gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn are EXTREMELY far out and permitted relative peace-from-bombardment for the inner four planets (and still do). (see March 23 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ) This is just one MORE variable that allowed life on earth... and there are now hundreds of variables. And all of those variables simply go to set up conditions for life... the actual development of life poses a whole new set of fantastic against-the-odds variables that must be overcome.

    Its possible that microbes get passed around like the common cold in the solar system. That is not what I consider "alien life". Further, lets assume that the earth "blew up" and sent shards off into space at the highest speed of a comet.. about a million miles an hour. It would still take about a million years to get to the closest uninhabitable planet. A piece actually getting to another planet, with microbes intact, surviving reentry and seeding another planet is probably about as likely as a gamma ray burst from a far-flung star.

    The more we know, the more we know that it is less and less and less likely that their is other life in the universe. Earth is an anomaly, and the mathematics involved are slowing proving that.

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