IT IS no longer a case of if but more likely when we will answer the question: "Are we alone?".
Even in our own cosmic backyard our solar system there are numerous potential candidates for life.
From the red planet Mars which scientists understand was likely much warmer and wetter in life, and may have had the conditions for simple microbial life.
To Europa and Enceladus icy moons of the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, which have probable liquid oceans beneath their frozen surfaces.
Even the planet Venus previously deemed an inhospitable world has been subject to scrutiny about the possibility of simple life in its clouds.
But when it comes to intelligent life, to the likes dreamed up by science fiction, or perhaps something even beyond the imagination, we just dont know.
For pretty much every star you can see when you look up, there is at least one planet orbiting around it.
On the face of it the universe is full of candidate places for life to exist.
Whether we make contact with any intelligent life beyond is yet to be seen.
This could happen tomorrow, or it could happen 1,000 years from now. It could have already happened.
We just dont know and we are yet to have the evidence.
Say an intelligent alien race one likely far more advanced than ourselves given the fact that it would have developed capabilities to travel across the universe made contact with us.
Then what would happen?
Experts such as the late Professor Stephen Hawking have suggested that an intelligent alien life reaching Earth would be bad news for us.
Meeting an advanced alien civilisation could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didnt turn out so well.
But this is not a view shared by everyone, myself included.
Especially given the fact that if a civilisation has already developed the enormous capabilities required for intergalactic travel, than they are likely already aware of our existence, given the radio signals we have been emitting for over a century.
But say a signal was found. And contact was made by an alien race with Earth? Then what?
While we are divided so much on Earth race, politics, archaeology. In the vastness of space we all call the same planet home.
Perhaps though aliens are aware of our exitance and they have just passed us by. Much in the same way that you wouldnt stop to talk to a colony of ants in the street, aliens might see us as no different.
To an alien civilisation any communication we made would have to represent one planet, not one nation.
There have already been recent sightings which have caused concern.
Such as the now infamous 2004 Nimitz incident where video showed pilots tracking a strange Tic Tac like object in the night sky.
Pentagon officials later admitted the videos are real and they cannot explain them.
And earlier this year Washington got back into the "UFO Business", with the establishment of a new office - signed into law to study "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena".
Perhaps the biggest hurdle though would be that if contact was made, we wouldnt likely agree on how to respond.
While there is a UN Department for Outer Space Affairs, there is no protocol on how we would respond as one planet. We would have to agree on what to do internationally.
In all likelihood though, we would have some time.
While the movies depict aliens visiting us, it is perhaps far more probable that we would detect a signal from them far in the universe.
Then the process of communicating with an alien civilisation would be comparable not to Star Wars, and other movies, but to archaeology.
Given the mind boggling vastness of the cosmos by the time a signal from an alien civilisation has reached us, and we have figured out a way to reply, the timeframe from when it was sent could be tens perhaps hundreds of years.
Our way of learning about a far of civilisations, could almost be thought of as how we learned about the Romans.
Perhaps though aliens are aware of our exitance and they have just passed us by.
Much in the same way that you wouldnt stop to talk to a colony of ants in the street, aliens might see us as no different. We just dont know.
Intelligent life may even be a fluke and our existence a mere cosmic coincidence, which presents the most terrifying possibility of all WE are the most intelligent beings in the universe.
I really hope this is not true.
Sarah Cruddas can be seen on Craig Charles: UFO Conspiracies which is available on catch up services on Sky HISTORY.
For more UFO based programming head over to Blaze TV for UFO Week featuring new UK and Free TV premieres every single night from MondayMarch 28 to Sunday April 3.
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