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Using instruments in space and on the ground, scientists are learning more about the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets, as well as the conditions necessary for life. So far, we’ve found more than 150 planets outside our solar system, but we’ve yet to find evidence of life beyond Earth. The Space Science Institute of Boulder, Colorado, developed the Alien Earths traveling exhibition to allow the public to join the search.

Alien Earths addresses several basic questions that scientists ponder:

  • How does our knowledge of life on Earth inform the search for life beyond Earth?
  • Are we more likely to find intelligent life or microbes?
  • How does life alter its environment?
  • How can we learn about a distant planet’s habitability from just a few pixels of light?
  • When searching for signs of intelligent life, what should we look or listen for?

The search for distant planets and life beyond Earth requires enormous creativity. Through hands-on interactive components, visitors to Alien Earths learn about the methods and technology that scientists use to search for planets and signs of life.

The exhibition consists of four interrelated areas:

With hands-on and multi-media components, you can:

  • Compare the life cycle of our Sun to other stars.
  • Set planets in motion around a star and watch what happens.
  • Experiment with an infrared camera and ordinary objects.
  • Feel the difference in density between three known planets.
  • Explore the methods used to search for extra-solar planets.
  • Learn about the most abundant life form on Earth, and possibly elsewhere – microbes.
  • Smell the difference between various microbial colonies.
  • Listen to sounds from space and find out what signals from intelligent beings might sound like.

The National Science Foundation and NASA’s Kepler, Navigator, and Spitzer missions provided funding for Alien Earths. The NASA Astrobiology Institute, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the SETI Institute provided additional support.








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