- Elon Musk responded to a young fan who sent a letter asking if he believes there is life on other planets
- The SpaceX founder suggested Mars or Europa may harbor extraterrestrial life
- NASA is aiming to send its Europa Clipper spacecraft to the Jupiter moon by 2023
Is there life on other planets? Elon Musk suggested that it may be possible to find extraterrestrial life if space missions look in certain places.
On Thursday, the SpaceX and Tesla founder shared the two most likely spots where humans may be able to find extraterrestrial life in response to a letter sent to him by a 13-year old boy, who asked if Musk believes there is life on other planets. The two places he mentioned? Earth’s neighbor, Mars, and Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
“Doesn’t seem to be any life in this solar system. Maybe under the ice of Europa or extremophile bacteria below the surface of Mars,” he tweeted.
Musk added a link that leads to the Wikipedia page of the Drake equation — a probabilistic equation that is used by scientists to estimate the possible number of communicating extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.
This is not the first time Musk has been asked about alien life.
“As far as we know, we’re the only consciousness or the only life that’s out there,” Musk said last year during the unveiling of Starship Mk1, a prototype for SpaceX’s massive reusable launch system, Space.com reported. “There might be other life, but we’ve seen no signs of it.”
“People often ask me,” he shared. “‘What do you know about the aliens?’ and I’m like, ‘Man, I tell you, pretty sure I’d know if there were aliens. I’ve not seen any sign of aliens.'”
Meanwhile, NASA announced last year that it is sending the Europa Clipper spacecraft to Jupiter’s mysterious and icy moon, targeting a launch date between 2023 and 2025. The mission aims to study the conditions of Europa’s environment and determine whether it is suitable for supporting life.
Jupiter’s sixth-largest moon is said to have a surface temperature roughly 238 degrees below zero and is believed to have oceans underneath its icy surface, according to NASA.
Mars, on the other hand, has displayed shreds of evidence of conditions that could have supported life. Due to dry riverbeds, ancient shorelines, and salty surface chemistry discovered by orbiters and rovers at Mars, it is believed that the red planet once had liquid water and even lakes. Scientists also found evidence of organic compounds, or the chemical building blocks of life, on Mars using data from NASA’s Curiosity Rover.
In July, NASA sent off the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover to the red planet with the goal of finding signs of past microbial life.
Both places mentioned, Mars and Europa, are still largely unexplored. However, the space missions to these locations may soon unlock more of their secrets and determine whether or not extraterrestrial life had once lurked, or are lurking, on Mars and