NASA, SETI Prepare for the Arrival of Aliens

Even though it may sound like something that comes out of the science-fiction books, the NASA American space agency and the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) initiative, along with scientists, psychologists, ethicists, lawyers, representatives of the media and anthropologists, have recently held a three day-long workshop, trying to find ways of dealing with the issue of how people would react if they were told that aliens had been found.

And the reason they have met is not that they have already found a little green man and don't know how to break the news to the public. They have met because modern advancements in science and in monitoring technologies might soon give scientists and astronomers the possibility to discover life, no matter how small, on moons such as Titan and Europe, or even on Mars. Astronomical finds already number in the hundreds, and new ones are made almost daily.

At this rate of progress, it shouldn't surprise anyone if, at some point, some astronomer goes live and says that his or her team has found some microbe colony on Mars, or fish-like creatures in the underground oceans of Europa. However it is most likely that panic would ensue immediately, with individuals expected to fall under two categories: one that would be completely oblivious to the news and go on about its daily life as usual, and another that would panic and lock itself in the basement, with a lifetime supply of dehydrated food.

One of the hypothetical problems that has been discussed at the workshop has been the potential path the world would be faced with if we learned that Mars had living creatures on it. Not necessarily beings with legs and teeth, but tiny bacteria living below the surface, which could indeed be causing some of the planet's methane accumulations, would people care to move to Mars, turn it into a reserve, or simply limit their intrusion.

It may seem like a laugh that scientists and representatives of various groups are discussing about this now, but, when the time comes, we could use a little planning. We do create sketches before erecting a building, shouldn't we have one for colonizing or accepting other worlds?

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