Seeing the above picture you all must have already got an idea what is the topic that I am going to cover in my article. “Aliens” yes it is! And various methodologies to find out the existence of alien life. In our previous article(click here to know more) we all had a glimpse of the UFOs, Crop circles, UFO sightings etc. But the question always arises, turns around and finally ends up on aliens. And then are all those objects which are connected to aliens. But do aliens really exist, is a question which nobody has been able to answer yet, but it is only a matter of time that soon this alien fantasy shall turn into reality.
Let us understand the term alien. Alien can be defined as any living creature which is extraterrestrial and does not belong to the ecologies of earth. In scientific terms, it is specie which is new to a particular environment. These as-yet-hypothetical life forms may range from simple bacteria-like organisms to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity. Although many scientists expect extraterrestrial life to exist, there is no unambiguous evidence for its existence so far.
AREAS OF ALIEN SIGHTINGS (UFO Sightings):
UFO sightings are a worldwide phenomenon, with reports coming from almost every nation. Some countries, however, have more reports than others, the ones that continue to have the most UFO sightings over an extended period of time have made Educating Humanity's Hotspot list.
THE WELSH TRIANGLE:
The string of sightings around Dyfed, Wales in 1977 had a little bit of everything: UFO sightings, glowing balls of light chasing cars, and aliens looking in people's windows. Best of all: a UFO that liked to hover over a schoolhouse; TVs, radios, and cars that stopped working for no reason; and even the teleportation of a large number of cattle from one place to another. Wales is consistently rated as one of the best places on the planet to see UFOs.
MYRTLE BEACH SOUTH CAROLINA:
You may have never seen an unidentified flying object over Myrtle Beach, but if you live in this area, chances are you know someone who has. The Grand Strand has long had more than its share of UFO sightings.
THE M – TRIANGLE, RUSSIA:
Located about 600 miles east of Moscow, the M-Triangle might be the best place in all of Russia to see a UFO. Residents of this remote mountainous region count mysterious happenings as part of their daily life: strange lights, unidentified flying machines, encounters with translucent beings, and weird symbols and letters written across the sky. There are even reports that people who visit the M-Triangle develop super-human powers, which may be why the place is under constant surveillance by Russia's intelligence agencies.
WARMINISTER, WILTSHIRE, UK:
The vast field of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, southern England, is a stretch of verdant land steeped in history. It's here where the ancient neolithic site of Stonehenge sits, an unscrutable pile of rocks wrapped in mystery. And it's ere, or at least in the town of Warminster, where some of the U.K.'s most impassioned UFO watchers gather atop nearby Cradle Hill in the belief that they can signal extraterrestrial spaceships. In the 60s and 70s, local journalist Arthur Shuttlewood popularized The Warminster Mystery, leading to hundreds, perhaps thousands of independent claims of UFO sightings all coming from this small town. The most common and well documented sightings involve translucent, glowing orange discs that hover and then move in the sky with fantastic speed.
It is not often we get an opportunity to put an entire country on our UFO hotspot list but UFO sightings in Canada are at an all-time high, according to Canadian sky-gazers. The annual report from Ufology Research claims that between 2011and 2012 UFO sightings more than doubled. According to witnesses triangles, chevron, boomerang, orbs, spheres and saucer shape craft have been recently seen in the skies over Canada. One of the most intriguing mass UFO sighting cases occurred in Canada in 1975-76, The Charlie Redstar Flap where UFOs were seen by hundreds of people and described as friendly.
CHILE’S UFO TRAIL:
Over the past two decades residents in Chile's central district have recorded so many UFO sightings that in 2008 the town of Sam Clemente opened a "UFO trail". The 19-mile stretch weaves through the Andes Mountains, whose plateaus are said to make great landing pads for the spacecraft. Even though the area has long been known as a destination for UFO sightings, the move likely had a bit more to do with bringing in tourist dollars than it do unidentified spacecrafts. Along the trail tourists and UFO hunters alike can read signs that detail well-known sightings and visit restaurants, camping sites, hostels and cabins. And though Sernatur — the country's official tourism service — backed the initiative, it nonetheless claims, "In no way can we guarantee that a tourist coming to San Clemente will see a UFO."
On July 11, 1991 a total solar eclipse began over the Pacific Ocean and Hawaii, moved over Mexico and Central America and down to South America, ending in Brazil. In Mexico City, people reported seeing much more than a rare celestial event. In what has been called one of the largest mass UFO sightings ever, a number of Mexicans reported seeing a strange hovering craft as they were watching the eclipse. Sightings also apparently happened in other Mexican cities, but it's hard not to wonder whether some of these people were just seeing spots because they weren't wearing their eclipse safety.
Texas is a UFO hotspot in its own right, always ranking at the top of MUFON and UFORC list so that must make Stephenville TX white hot. It has been the location of one of the most incredible mass UFO sightings in the history of the USA.
In January 2008, dozens of people reported something strange hovering in the night sky. It was described as a mile-wide, silent object that flew low to the ground. Some said it moved incredibly fast. A local newspaper reporter said it had very intense, bright lights. The story later made it onto CNN's Larry King Live, which did an entire hour on the sighting. So was it life from another planet? Not so, said the U.S. Air Force a couple weeks later, explaining that ten Air Force Reserve F-16 fighter jets were the cause of the lights seen over the central Texas town. But it's doubtful the Air Force's explanation sufficed for those who witnessed the object. There is even a website dedicated to UFO sightings in Stephenville called the stephenvillelights.com.
ELK RIVER MINNESOTA:
Know for good fishing and a lot of snow, this unremarkable city north of Minneapolis has had its share of remarkable UFO sightings. The strange happenings began in the 1990's and have not let up since. Sightings in or near the town of Elk River, Minnesota, have made the area a UFO hot-spot, especially famous sightings and encounters in the 1990's. UFOs were often seen moving low to the ground or hovering, either silently or with a low humming sound. Strange shapes sighted have included cigar, wing, or v-shaped craft, regular old saucers, and even jellyfish shaped UFOs.
PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, CALIFORNIA:
UFOs are seen regularly along the Pacific Coast Highway, all the way from San Diego to San Francisco. During WWII a craft slowly flew over LA, witnessed by thousands of people, the US military fired off more than 1500 high caliber artillery shells without doing any damage whatsoever. Add in every sci-fi movie from Close Encounters to Independence Day and the fact that the state always leads the country in unexplained sightings, there's only one conclusion: if you really want to see a UFO, California is the place to be.
COLARES ISLAND, BRAZIL:
Brazil has been in the forefront of UFO sightings in South America for decades, the government has recently made some strong efforts move UFO disclosure forward. There have been many notable and undeniable UFO cases in Brazil especially orginating from Colares Island. The Colares flap refers to an outbreak of UFO sightings that occurred in 1977 on the Brazilian Island of Corales. During the outbreak, the UFOs attack left two dead and injured over 100. These sightings led to the Brazilian government dispatching a team to investigate under the codename Operation Saucer (Portuguese: Operação Prato), but the government later recalled the team and classified the files until the late 1990s. To this day the island of Corales is still seeing UFOs but most sightings rarely make the news.
There's something special about Bonnybridge, Scotland. Since 1992, the small town has been the sight of an unusually high number of UFO sightings. In fact, Bonnybridge lies in what UFO believers call "The Falkirk Triangle," an area of land between the cities Stirling, Fife and the outer neighborhoods of Edinburgh where people routinely report unidentified objects sailing through the sky. The Scottish government says it receives over 300 UFO sightings from Bonnybridge and surrounding areas every year. UFO reports have continued over the years, leading some people to believe they are real. "How do we know aliens aren't walking about?" Bonnybridge Councillor Billy Buchanan told The Scotsman newspaper in 2005. "I have no doubt that Bonnybridge is part of something exciting."
EARTH’S ORBIT – SPACE:
UFOs were seen during Gemini orbital missions and en route to the moon. Shuttle astronauts have spotted them and so have Russian cosmonauts. More than a dozen American and Russian space travelers have spoken openly about encountering UFOs during their missions, yet NASA doesn't want to talk about it. What are they afraid of? What aren't they telling us? Now that NASA has placed rovers on Mars and new technology allows us to scan the surface of the moon and sun, reports of UFO sightings have dramatically increased from space.
Arizona always ranks up at the top of the list on UFO sightings, it could be because of its close proximity to area 51 in Nevada or the often talked about alien base in Dulce New Mexico. It is also home of arguably the largest mass UFO sighting in the history of the world 'The Phoenix Lights' of March 1997.Another UFO hotspot in Arizona is Sedona, a place where UFO Sighting have been famous for decades and many people swear the are has mystical powers. Some people swear that Arizona has natural vortexes making it easy for alien craft to come and go. No matter the reason Arizona is blessed or plagued with some of the most incredible UFO sightings in the world on a year round basis.
NULLARBOUR PLAIN, AUSTRALIA:
"Crossing the Nullarbor", for many Australians, is a quintessential experience of the "Australian Outback". Stickers bought from roadhouses on the highway show "I have crossed the Nullarbor", and can be seen on vehicles of varying quality or capacity for long distance travel. This place first made its bones as a UFO hotspot when the British military began testing atomic bombs there in the 1950s. Since then, the extremely isolated area has become a hub of intense UFO activity. Numerous people traveling through its harsh desert reported having their cars chased by UFOs. These, plus reports of alien abductions, drove the Australian government to erect a highway sign that reads: "Beware of UFOs."
AREA 51 AND SURROUNDING TOWNS, NEVADA:
There are three good reasons why chances of seeing a UFO here are better than average: First off the Extraterrestrial Highway cuts right through the region, can you think of a better place to see a UFO when motoring around the western United States. Second it is home of the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachael Nevada, where likeminded UFO enthusiast make a point of exchanging stories about their latest sightings. Next door to Rachael NV is the infamous, least keep secret on the planet, Groom Lake - aka Area 51.
SAN LUIS VALLEY, COLORADO:
Located in the southern part of the Rocky Mountain State, this area is not only known for multiple UFO sightings, but also cattle mutilations, magic shrubs, and strange creatures living amongst its high altitude sand dunes. One small town in the valley— (Hooper, pop. 200— has had so many UFO sightings; residents have erected a UFO spotting tower. Some speculate the area's large uranium deposits are what interests the ETs. Colorado consistently has the highest number of UFO sightings per person in the USA.
WAYCLIFFE WELL, AUSTRALIA:
You really don't want to go to Wycliffe Well in Australia's Northern Territory and not see a UFO: "Sightings are so common, that if you stayed up all night looking you would be considered unlucky not to see anything." Supposedly, earthlings have been witnessing UFOs in this part of the Outback since World War II. But hey, if you turn out to be one of those "unlucky" sightseers, at least you get to lay eyes on Elvis! (In statue form). And wouldn't you know? This very same place apparently has a vast beer selection.
NAZCA CITY, PERU:
Nazca city, Peru is famous for the “The Nazca Lines”; are a series of ancient geoplyphs that were first discovered in 1927. Since the large designs can be seen in entirety only from the air and given the ancient Nazca people couldn't fly, alien enthusiasts believe that these lines are actually spacecraft landing strips.
Astrobiology / Exobiology:
The terms astrobiology and exobiology are connected to the extraterrestrial life forms. Astrobiology is the study of origin of life, the evolution in the life forms, the spread of various life forms and for how long such life forms shall continue to exist (in simple terms the future of such life forms) in the universe and it includes both, the life forms which exist on earth and the extra – terrestrial life forms. Astrobiology is the study which answer the questions that if life forms can exist beyond our mother earth and how to trace and identify such existence of life.
The origins of stars and planetary systems, and the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe, have long fascinated mankind. There is a broad understanding that life originated from simple precursor molecules and proceeded via more complex molecules to self-replicating, metabolizing entities capable of independent existence and subsequent evolution. However, the stages and mechanisms that comprise these processes are still poorly understood. The biogenic elements (H, C, N, O, S, P) and organic matter are some of the major constituents of the universe. Nucleosynthesis of heavy elements in stars, such as carbon, allowed the formation of organic molecules, which are widespread in our Galaxy and beyond. The discoveries of protoplanetary disks around other stars suggested that our solar system is not longer the only known example of a planetary system in the Universe. The hunt for planets resulted in the detection of more than 50 planets to date circling other stars. Future instrumentation in planetary detection might eventually show the existence of Earth-like planets capable of sustaining life.
Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary research field, combining astronomy, astrophysics, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, geology, climate research, and specific fields such as palaeobiology, organic chemistry, geomicrobiology, ecogenomics (genome evolution) and others. To understand life's origins in the context of planetary environments, numerous space missions and space- and Earth-based experiments are currently being carried out, or planned for the near future. Several space missions organized by both NASA and ESA are in progress, or are well into the planning stages, that have key objectives concerning the nature of extraterrestrial organic chemistry and the search for traces of past or present life. These include MARS-EXPRESS (to Mars), CASSINI-HUYGENS (to Saturn and Titan), ROSETTA (to comet Wirtanen). Future space missions, such as more advanced Infrared satellites (SIRTF, FIRST, NGST), an orbiter (or lander) to investigate Jupiter's moon Europa (EUROPA-Orbiter) or space-based telescopes to search for Earth-like planets (DARWIN, TPF-terrestrial planet finder) will build on and extend current mission objectives for life search strategies. Answering the questions how life originated on Earth is one of the main philosophical challenges of mankind and also of vital importance in the frame of recent planetary detections and the possible emergence of life elsewhere.
Astrobiology is a research field that is currently underemphasized in the Netherlands compared to other large European countries and the US. It is therefore that we organize a meeting to introduce this new research discipline on a national basis, to stimulate collaborations and to form a young generation working on future projects in this research field.
So that was short gist about astrobiology, coming to the term Exobiology.
Yes you all might have guessed it from the image above. The term exobiology is similar to the term astrobiology but more specific—it covers the search for life beyond Earth, and the effects of extraterrestrial environments on living things. The Merriam – Webster dictionary defines the term exobiology as a branch of biology concerned with the search for life outside the earth and with the effects of extraterrestrial environments on living organisms.
The primary goal of exobiological research is to reach a better understanding of the processes leading to the origin, evolution and distribution of life on Earth or elsewhere in the universe. In this endeavour, scientists from a wide variety of disciplines are involved, such as astronomy, planetary research, organic chemistry, palaeontology and the various subdisciplines of biology including microbial ecology and molecular biology. Space technology plays an important part by offering the opportunity for exploring our solar system, for collecting extraterrestrial samples, and for utilizing the peculiar environment of space as a tool. Exobiological activities include comparison of the overall pattern of chemical evolution of potential precursors of life, in the interstellar medium, and on the planets and small bodies of our solar system; tracing the history of life on Earth back to its roots; deciphering the environments of the planets in our solar system and of their satellites, throughout their history, with regard to their habitability; searching for other planetary systems in our Galaxy and for signals of extraterrestrial civilizations; testing the impact of space environment on survivability of resistant life forms. This evolutionary approach towards understanding the phenomenon of life in the context of cosmic evolution may eventually contribute to a better understanding of the processes regulating the interactions of life with its environment on Earth. But since we have a sample of just one – life on Earth – it is difficult to make anything but the most general decisions on what lines of exobiology research are likely to be productive (keep in mind that null results can, of course, be quite productive).
However for life form to exist on a planet, the planet should be into a habitable zone which can support life. In the search of extraterrestrial life, the search for such planets have been intensified and many space agencies have launched various missions for the same, with NASA’s “HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher)” and the discoveries done by the “Kepler space telescope” are the most famous ones and known to the masses. Such a planet which does not orbit around the sun, but which orbits around the stars like sun in their solar systems are known as Exoplanets or Extrasolar planets.
NASA has setup a branch which exclusively conducts exobiological research known as “Exobiology Branch (Code SSX)”. The mission of the branch is to conduct interdisciplinary basic research in exobiology to understand pre-biotic chemistry, and the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the Universe. They provide an interface between the external academic community and NASA programs. A part of their work is also to inform the selection, design and development of NASA life detection missions; the design and fabrication of spaceflight instruments to evaluate habitability and detect biosignatures; and the interpretation of astrobiology mission and astronomical data. The research for Exobiology is being carried on since 40 years at the AMES Research Centre and is the only centre within NASA Astrobiology program which has a sustained, long-term program of theoretical and computational studies on the origins of life.
The terms Astrobiology and Exobiology cover a huge area of research and I will further focus only on these areas in one of my next articles to come.
The next term which we need to know for alien life existence is Exoplanets (also known as Extrasolar planets)
EXOPLANETS (EXTRASOLAR PLANETs)
A planet which does not orbit around the sun, but which orbits around the stars like sun in their solar systems are known as Exoplanets or Extrasolar planets. The exoplanet naming convention is an extension of the system used for naming multiple-star systems as adopted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). For exoplanets orbiting a single star, the name is normally formed by taking the name of its parent star and adding a lower case letter. The first planet discovered in a system is given the designation "b" (the parent star is considered to be "a") and later planets are given subsequent letters. If several planets in the same system are discovered at the same time, the closest one to the star gets the next letter, followed by the other planets in order of orbital size. A provisional IAU-sanctioned standard exists to accommodate the naming of circumbinary planets. A limited number of exoplanets have IAU-sanctioned proper names. Other naming systems exist. Starting in 1988, and as of 19 November 2016, there have been 3,541 exoplanets in 2,656 planetary systems and 597 multiple planetary systems confirmed.
As of 19 November 2016, a total of 3,541 confirmed exoplanets are listed in the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia, including a few that were confirmations of controversial claims from the late 1980s. The first published discovery to receive subsequent confirmation was made in 1988 by the Canadian astronomers Bruce Campbell, G. A. H. Walker, and Stephenson Yang of the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia. Although they were cautious about claiming a planetary detection, their radial-velocity observations suggested that a planet orbits the star Gamma Cephei. Partly because the observations were at the very limits of instrumental capabilities at the time, astronomers remained skeptical for several years about this and other similar observations. It was thought some of the apparent planets might instead have been brown dwarfs, objects intermediate in mass between planets and stars. In 1990 additional observations were published that supported the existence of the planet orbiting Gamma Cephei, but subsequent work in 1992 again raised serious doubts. Finally, in 2003, improved techniques allowed the planet's existence to be confirmed.
On 9 January 1992, radio astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced the discovery of two planets orbiting the pulsarPSR 1257+12. This discovery was confirmed, and is generally considered to be the first definitive detection of exoplanets. Follow-up observations solidified these results, and confirmation of a third planet in 1994 revived the topic in the popular press. These pulsar planets are thought to have formed from the unusual remnants of the supernova that produced the pulsar, in a second round of planet formation, or else to be the remaining rocky cores of gas giants that somehow survived the supernova and then decayed into their current orbits.
On 6 October 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the University of Geneva announced the first definitive detection of an exoplanet orbiting a main-sequence star, namely the nearby G-type star 51 Pegasi. This discovery, made at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, ushered in the modern era of exoplanetary discovery. Technological advances, most notably in high-resolution spectroscopy, led to the rapid detection of many new exoplanets: astronomers could detect exoplanets indirectly by measuring their gravitational influence on the motion of their host stars. More extrasolar planets were later detected by observing the variation in a star's apparent luminosity as an orbiting planet passed in front of it.
Initially, most known exoplanets were massive planets that orbited very close to their parent stars. Astronomers were surprised by these "hot Jupiters", because theories of planetary formation had indicated that giant planets should only form at large distances from stars. But eventually more planets of other sorts were found, and it is now clear that hot Jupiters make up the minority of exoplanets. In 1999, Upsilon Andromedae became the first main-sequence star known to have multiple planets. Kepler-16 contains the first discovered planet that orbits around a binary main-sequence star system.
On 26 February 2014, NASA announced the discovery of 715 newly verified exoplanets around 305 stars by the Kepler Space Telescope. These exoplanets were checked using a statistical technique called "verification by multiplicity". Prior to these results, most confirmed planets were gas giants comparable in size to Jupiter or larger as they are more easily detected, but the Kepler planets are mostly between the size of Neptune and the size of Earth.
On 23 July 2015, NASA announced Kepler-452b, a near-Earth-size planet orbiting the habitable zone of a G2-type star. The general features on which identification of a exoplanet is done includes color and brightness of a planet, Magnetic field between the star and planet orbiting that star, plate tectonics, volcanism, moons, atmospheres etc. As more planets are discovered, the field of exoplanetology continues to grow into a deeper study of extrasolar worlds, and will ultimately tackle the prospect of life on planets beyond the Solar System. At cosmic distances, life can only be detected if it is developed at a planetary scale and strongly modified the planetary environment, in such a way that the modifications cannot be explained by classical physico-chemical processes (out of equilibrium processes). For example, molecular oxygen (O2) in the atmosphere of Earth is a result of photosynthesis by living plants and many kinds of microorganisms, so it can be used as an indication of life on exoplanets, although small amounts of oxygen could also be produced by non-biological means. Furthermore, a potentially habitable planet must orbit a stable star at a distance within which planetary-mass objects with sufficient atmospheric pressure can support liquid water at their surfaces.
Today we know that there are literally thousands, if not millions of other planets, many of which may be very similar to our own earth. So some of us; many of us believe that we're going to find evidence that there is life elsewhere in the universe. For now, to sum up I find it amazing that we are a part of the generation where research and the hunt for finding exoplanets which are habitable and support life is way to common. The methods to find them have been standardized and governments all around the world are trying to find extraterrestrial life or at least habitable planets on which we humans can set up a new world of their own, which can be peaceful and made up of various communities throughout the globe.
In our next article we shall be continuing with more detailed analysis over the research methodologies to find extraterrestrial life which exists in the universe.
Let's Bring Light Into Darkness!