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Life in the Universe

Could humans be the only intelligent beings in all the vastness of the universe? Or are we just one humble race, a member of a vast intergalactic fraternity of advanced civilizations? SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is the scientific quest to answer these great unknowns. As of now all we have are questions, but we know the answers, when they come, could transform our world. Since the day it was formed in 1980, The Planetary Society has been there to support the search.

And what about other life? Is there -- or was there ever -- anything else alive in our solar system? Did microbes once spring to life in oases on early Mars, or around the undersea volcanic vents of Europa or Enceladus?  Could life have originated on Mars and been transported to Earth? We've never detected evidence for anything living elsewhere than our own fragile planet. Are we alone?

Full Free Intro Astronomy Class Now Online

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/05/22 02:57 CDT | 1 comment

Bruce Betts' complete CSUDH Intro Astronomy and Planetary Science class is now available online. Find out how to access it, and go behind the scenes.

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Earth’s toughest life could survive on Mars

Posted by Mike Malaska on 2012/05/15 06:22 CDT | 6 comments

The surface of Mars is a tough place to survive, but researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) found some lichens and cyanobacteria tough enough to handle those conditions.

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One Man's Quest for SETI's Most Promising Signal

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2012/01/27 03:29 CST | 2 comments

A review of Robert H. Gray's "The Elusive Wow: Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence."

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NOVA: Finding Life Beyond Earth airs tonight, with lots of planetary stars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/19 02:10 CDT

Programming note: tonight, public television stations will be airing a new, two-hour NOVA documentary, "Finding Life Beyond Earth."

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Phobos LIFE Ready to Launch

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2011/09/01 12:00 CDT

Years in the making, our Phobos LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment) is nearing launch this November. Phobos LIFE will send millions of passengers on a 34-month journey to Mars’ moon Phobos and back.

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Launch Window Approaching!

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2011/08/21 12:00 CDT

We are super excited that the Planetary Society’s Phobos LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment) is about ready to launch to Mars’ moon Phobos and back. We have been working for years preparing this unique test of the effects of long term exposure to deep space on a wide variety of life.

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Shuttle LIFE Organisms Return from Space

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2011/06/09 05:40 CDT

In the middle of the night on June 1, 2011, millions of passengers returned safely to Earth as part of the great conclusion to space shuttle Endeavour's last flight, STS-134. Many of those millions of passengers were part of the Planetary Society's Shuttle LIFE experiment. Five different kinds of creatures from all three domains of life are part of Shuttle LIFE.

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Optical SETI's Growing Capabilities

Posted by Paul Horowitz on 2009/10/28 12:00 CDT

Often, the phrase “next steps” has been known to describe things that don't actually happen. But for The Planetary Society's All-sky Optical SETI, it's different. Here's what's happened in the last year.

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