The head of the astronomy department at the University of Arizona believes that we are less than two decades away from finally finding alien life in space.
In a conversation with the website Futurism, professor Chris Impey said that technological advancements have put humanity on the precipice of the landmark discovery.
"I put my money on detecting microbial life in 10 to 15 years," he told the website, "but not at all detecting intelligent life."
Impey's caveat concerning intelligent life may disappoint UFO enthusiasts, but he noted that the discovery of even microbial life would have enormous implications for humankind.
For starters, it would confirm that life could exist on worlds other than Earth, a seemingly simple concept which still remains theoretical to scientists.
Beyond that, microbial life from off-planet may provide critical clues as to what astronomers should be looking for when it comes to planets suspected of harboring living organisms.
A greater understanding of how other worlds could harbor life might also serve to inform humans about where they could eventually explore and colonize in the future.
So while an amoeba from Europa would be less than thrilling for those us hoping to someday encounter an intelligent alien, it would undoubtedly be a major step in that direction.
Provided, of course, we don't bring the microbial life back to Earth and it winds up wiping us all out.
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