In a short period of time, several promising planets and star systems have arisen that suggest the life may not merely contain distant alien life, but could actually be teeming with living beings and even perhaps advanced alien civilizations. The discovery of Gliese 581g being in the Goldilocks Zone (the distance from a star conducive to life) and being approximately the right size causes us to question, how many more are there? And its closeness to Earth makes this discovery even more incredible.
Gliese 581g’s significance as a potential harbinger of life is still not yet confirmed, but the significance of discovering a planet so quickly that could very well contain alien life in such a short period is one of the most compelling pieces of information to date. And when one takes a look at the sheer numbers involved, the case for alien life in our universe blows the Drake equation up to incredible proportions. The Drake Equation suggests that given the number of universes and the variables involved in the creation of life, that a number of planets may contain intelligent beings of varying advancement.
But the new discovery suggests that this equation may be actually far more conservative than these new discoveries suggest. In fact, the speed at which Gliese 581g was discovered suggests an incredibly densely populated universe with millions of stars being orbited by life. If the discovery of Gleise 581g in the Goldilocks zone is any indication, we may be discovering others like it in a matter of only a few years. The actual confirmation of life on another world will require more evidence than most other theories we are used to in astronomy. And yet this discovery suggests we may actually confirm the existence of habitable planets (perhaps even habitable for humans) in our lifetimes.
Of 429 known planets to have been studied in the Galaxy one definitely has produced life (Earth) and one is the right size and distance to possibly produce life (Gliese 581g). And with more being discovered every month, all of us on Earth must seriously take stock of our position in the universe. So far, one out of every about 215 planets seems capable of sustaining life. And this isn’t even taking into consideration the vast possibilities within our own solar system such as Saturn’s moon Titan, Mars, Europa’s Ganymede and Callisto, and possible microbes suggested in Venus’ atmosphere.
So if the universe is truly teeming with extraterrestrial life, there may some serious questions we must ask ourselves. Imagine the excitement of our time as we uncover ever more evidence of the greatest discovery mankind has ever known. To discover alien life may in the end prove to be even more rewarding than being discovered ourselves. And perhaps as Earth’s scientists scrutinize through their instruments and calculations the possibilities of life elsewhere in the universe we too will be scrutinized by similarly interested and yet entirely alien eyes for our reaction.