by Ansley Kirbo

Some people may remember, several weeks ago we posted a series of articles answering your questions. While we did answer them to our best ability, we are circling back to this question – How Big is the Universe? How Do We Know There is No Life Out There? – to get answers from an expert.

Leslie Mullen is our expert today. She works for NASA in the Jet Propulsion Lab as a public outreach specialist, and, more importantly, is Ms. Tockenstein’s friend. We reached out to her with this question, and this is a gist of what she said:

To answer the question of the size of the universe she told us this, “These are questions scientists are trying to answer! The first question has lots of theories but nothing absolutely proven, new tools like the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope are needed.” Basically, if you don’t understand, she is saying that no one really knows for sure, but scientists are working on it. If you haven’t heard of the James Webb telescope, it is a telescope that was recently launched, sent out to take pictures of the far reaches of outer space.

For the second question, How Do We Know That Aliens Don’t Exist?, here is Mullen’s response, “…the second answer is we don’t know that, and that’s why we go to Mars and want to go to places like Jupiter’s Moon Europa, to seek evidence of alien life. That’s also why we are trying to study the atmospheres of exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars), to see if we can spot clues that life has altered the atmosphere, just as plant life on Earth changed our atmosphere by adding so much oxygen to the mix. There are also searches by SETI for radio transmissions or other technological indications of advanced civilizations. No evidence for alien life has been found yet, but space is huge and our search area so far is tiny.”

In short, we don’t know, and there is no solid evidence to swing it one way or the other, but we will keep searching, and there is a definite chance of finding something.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for asking this question. And a special thank you to Leslie Mullen for answering our questions.