Life in the Universe

Searching For Intelligent Life

How do scientists look for intelligent extraterrestrial life?

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, is a fascinating enterprise that has captured the imaginations of creative thinkers for generations. For a long time, SETI was not considered mainstream science by most people. Today, though much of the worldwide conversation on SETI remains in the realm of speculation and pseudoscience, scientifically legitimate and credible SETI efforts are indeed going on.

Modern search missions have most commonly employed radio telescopes that target nearby stars similar to the Sun. They act as antennae, listening for communications signals created by alien civilizations that are sent out from their home planets, either accidentally or intentionally.

In the continuing search for life and evidence of water on Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory (a.k.a. Curiosity) landed in 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Astronomy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App