Moon Bugs and Oceanic Moons: Seven Facts Science Has Revealed About Extraterrestrials

Extraterrestrial life could indeed exist among the stars - here are some things we've learned thanks to science. For many years, BBC Future has covered a wide range of stories about what life on other worlds might look like and what the consequences of discovering extraterrestrials might be. Starting a week of special reports on aliens - all in honor of the upcoming 60th anniversary of the most famous extraterrestrial life form on BBC, Doctor Who - we've selected some of our favorite facts about alien beings.

Our Close Call with Space Life The Moon, as we now know, is a lifeless place. But before the Apollo 11 astronauts landed there, we couldn't be 100% sure. In fact, there was a serious possibility that the three members of the mission could have brought space bugs with them.

When the Apollo capsule landed in the sea after the lunar journey, strict measures were taken on Earth to prevent the spread of extraterrestrial life. Astronauts were supposed to stay inside with the hatch locked until they entered quarantine. However, it was hot and uncomfortable, rocking on the waves, so they were allowed to open the door.

If moon bugs had arrived, they could have taken advantage of this opportunity and infiltrated the Pacific Ocean. In principle, this could have been a catastrophe for life on Earth. Fortunately for us, it didn't happen.

More about the moments that could have accidentally ended humanity can be found in Richard Fisher's article.

Oceanic Moons Might Be the Best Places to Search for Extraterrestrial Life It is believed that some moons in our solar system have seas that are remarkably similar to ours - salty and heated by hydrothermal vents. Now scientists believe that moon oceans may be the best places to search for extraterrestrial life.

For example, it is believed that Jupiter's moon Europa contains more liquid water than all the oceans on Earth combined, and Saturn's moon Enceladus spews huge water plumes that hint at hydrothermal vents on its ocean floor.

If they turn out to be similar to the deep ocean vents found on Earth, this could be significant. It is one of the most compelling candidates for where life is believed to have originated on Earth.

Other moons with potential for life include Jupiter's Callisto and Ganymede, as well as Saturn's Titan. Over the next decade, several major space missions are planned to search for signs of life in these alien oceans. But what kind of life could we find?

To find out what life might look like in extraterrestrial oceans, read this article by Miko Tatalovich.

Why We're Not Ready for Contact with Extraterrestrials Extraterrestrial life has not yet been discovered, but if it were, would we treat it well? Fictional scenarios didn't provide much hope, as extraterrestrials were often portrayed as non-human and subservient. Even among the people currently living on this planet, universal rights are too often ignored.

Nevertheless, ethics experts are now pondering what would happen if we ever made contact with extraterrestrials. Establishing their intelligence and intent would be one of the crucial initial steps. Another matter is to determine what rights they would be willing to grant us in return, especially if they already possess the technology to land on Earth.

For more on the missing plan for first contact with extraterrestrials, read Tamlin Magee's article.

Not All "Alien" Signals Come from Space Astronomers spend a lot of time looking up, scanning the skies for signals that might give them clues about distant stars, exoplanets, and galaxies. But sometimes they need to lower their gaze and look closer to home.

In 1998, scientists at the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, discovered strange radio bursts lasting only a few milliseconds that were recorded over several weeks. Strangely enough, they occurred only during working hours on weekdays.

Then in 2015, researchers managed to track down the source. It turned out to be the observatory's microwave oven. The bursts were recorded when researchers were heating up their food. The microwave oven emitted short bursts of radio waves at a frequency of about 2.4 GHz, which were picked up by the observatory's antenna.

For more on how UFO and "alien" signal research is now attracting serious scientific attention, read Zaria Gorvett's article.