Many of us see extra-terrestrial life as something far-fetched, and if it infact does exist, will not be within our grasp anytime soon.
I'm here to give my thoughts on the subject, which appear to be somewhat contradictory to the above statement.
I was watching something on Discovery Channel yesterday about the universe, and they had a segment on Jupiter's moon, Europa. It said that Europa does indeed have the capability to sustain life -- underneath its surface. The way that they explained it made actually a lot of sense. The fact that Europa orbits Saturn on an egg shaped path would compress it and stretch it slightly as it was affected by the extremely powerful gravitational forces of its father planet. This constant motion creates friction, and could warm up the icy planet enough to literally melt the ice from within and create oceans. These oceans would remain underneath the extremely cold surface of Europa for some period of time. This environment would be extremely dark, but not too cold to sustain life. This kind of reminded me of some of the bioluminescent creatures of Pandora, because they need to use these chemicals in their skin to see in the dark. The program simulated what this life may look like, if it were to exist, and they looked very similar to some of the deep-sea creatures of our own planet.
This was somewhat shocking. A moon that could possibly sustain life? It sounded like a bit of wishful thinking to me, but I could see that it could be possible.
However, they gave another explanation for life on other planets. Asteroids that have made contact with Earth over the years may act like shuttles, carrying microorganisms frozen inside from our planet to another planet, most likely into another solar system. From there, evolution would take over and eventually create complex beings, similar to ourselves. For all we know, this could potentially be happening at this very moment. There could be several planets with life on them, all originating from an asteroid that hit Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago. What do I make of this? I say that it could very well be possible. We don't understand all of the mechanics of it yet, but we could be the source of a lot of life in the universe. As a matter of fact, we could be the PRODUCT of an asteroid's encounter with Earth. If this is true, where is the origination point of life for all of the universe? How many planets has it been spread to? These are questions that we simply cannot answer at this point in time.
These questions, however, cannot be answered until we have a fuller understanding of the requirements of life. Who's to say that they know what life requires and what it doesn't? We can't possibly know what life can grow out of with such a limited view of the universe and even of our galaxy. There could be life on Jupiter for all we know, life that is able to withstand the cold and the extreme winds of the giant hurricanes. Why do we assume that just because we can't imagine something surviving in a certain environment that it can't actually exist? I'd really like to know where this stemmed from, where this limited imagination originated from.
But I would like to know what you guys think. Do you think that there is life out there? What do you think the requirements for life are, if any? We need to find the answers to these questions if we are going to be able to look for life. We need to look in the most unusual places, even if they do not appear to foster anything other than rocks and a thin atmosphere. I feel that our scope is much too limited, we need to broaden our horizons if we truly want to find life, intelligent or otherwise, in other places.