White House on aliens: No contact yet, but we're looking
The Obama administration's position on the existence of aliens, and whether the people of Earth have had contact with them, can be summed up this way: "Searching for ET, but no evidence yet."
That's the title of the official White House response to an online petition signed by 12,078 people that asks the government to acknowledge an "extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race."
"Hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence," the writers of the petition contend. "Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth."
The response to the petition was written by Phil Larson, who works on space policy and communications at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
In a 417-word essay, he explains that the U.S. government currently has no credible evidence that life exists beyond our planet -- or that any member of the human race has been contacted by an extraterrestrial.
But that doesn't mean the administration thinks there is no possibility that alien life exists.
In fact, quite the contrary: "Many scientists and mathematicians have looked with a statistical mind-set at the question of whether life likely exists beyond Earth and have come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life," writes Larson.
He says the U.S. government is actively involved in the search for life beyond our planet.
He cites three examples of the search:
-- NASA's Kepler spacecraft, which is looking for Earth-like planets primarily in the Milky Way galaxy.
-- The Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover, which will look for the chemical building blocks of life on the Red Planet.
-- And SETI, the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence, which was originally started with help from NASA but is now run through private funds.
So, ETs take note: If you want to phone Earth, the Obama administration is listening.
-- Deborah Netburn
Image: The Obama administration contends that there is no credible evidence that aliens walk among us. Tell that to Gertie. Credit: Universal Pictures