Throughout the history of man, there’s always one thing that stays the same, no matter what the generation – a drive for something more. Over the years, many people have gone out of their ways in search of something new, something that provides a new perspective on life and the world as we know it. This often leads researchers to travel and explore the many corners of the Earth, but that doesn’t mean they’re only bound to this blue planet we all call home.
Besides finding ancient artifacts buried beneath the earth and new species underneath the oceans, people also love to look up to the stars and think: what’s it like up there? Along with the investments made in studying the planet Earth, researchers have also gone above and beyond to learn more about the wonders of outer space, its many solar systems, planets, and galaxies. Thanks to the many innovations and breakthroughs achieved in technology, we have since acquired so much information about the universe. Even so, there’s still one question running at the back of our minds: are we the only lifeforms trying to understand this massive world we live in?

The Transit Method

More often than not, seeing the stars during a clear night sky can be quite a moment to experience. Sometimes, those lights shining from the sky can make you think things, like maybe there’s someone out there among those stars doing the exact same thing as you at the moment, thinking the exact same thing.
To answer this question, NASA created many types of tools, such as the Kepler space telescope. For its search, the telescope follows a strategy known as “the transit method,” allowing it to notice whenever a star’s brightness lowers to some degree. This dimming means that one of its orbiting planets has crossed its side facing the Earth, allowing the celestial body to have a moment to see our blue planet and vice-versa. Thanks to this method, over 4,000 planets, excluding the ones in our solar system, have since been discovered.

What Are The Chances?

Besides NASA, there are other companies located around the world that possess the same levels of fascination for the world above our heads. This includes the European Space Agency, which also takes credit for creating the Gaia spacecraft. Since its launch, Gaia has accumulated plenty of information regarding the universe. Using data acquired from the spacecraft and Kepler’s successor, TESS, researchers looked for whatever star was present within a 100-parsec-radius from the Earth – 1 parsec is 3.26 lightyears. From this study, they found 1,004 stars that feature the same aspects as our solar system’s sun, indicating a possible Earth-like planet could be orbiting its system. Additionally, through the transit method, it’s been discovered that out of those 1,004 stars, 508 of them have a 10-hour window where their supposed inhabitants could see Earth.

The Search Continues

At the moment, these findings are undoubtedly something researchers should be proud of, but that doesn’t mean their search ends there.
Although 1,004 is already an impressive number, it’s still uncertain how many of these stars actually have any Earth-like planets orbiting them. In more recent news, NASA reportedly spent an astounding $9.8 billion worth of investment money creating the James Webb Space Telescope. This and the Giant Magellan Telescope are built to not only find the universe’s many celestial bodies; they’re also designed to scan their atmospheres and see if it possesses any possible signs of life. With all this new and improved equipment pushing the search’s progress even further, who’s to say the same thing isn’t happening on another planet outside this solar system? Well, perhaps we’ll eventually come to a point where we and other possible lifeforms, perhaps from galaxies away, can finally interact with one another and hopefully coexist.

Photo Sources:
Cover – Facebook / Extra-Celestial Productions,
Photo #1 – NASA,
Photo #2 – NASA,
Photo #3 – NASA