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Life in the Universe

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We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into the future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some- perhaps many- may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message: "This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe."

Jimmy Carter, U.S. President
June 16, 1977

Questions to Explore:
  • What is life?
  • What substances are essential for terrestrial life? Is it possible that life elsewhere could be based on different substances?
  • How and when did life begin on Earth? Is it likely that life originated elsewhere in the solar system?
  • What evidence do we have that there are other planetary systems?
  • What can be said about the likelihood that there is life elsewhere in the galaxy? Is it likely there is intelligent life?
  • What efforts have been made to communicate with creatures on other habitable planets?

AstronomyOnline Learning Center

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