NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has found over a thousand planets beyond our own solar system that are potential candidates for intelligent life: The search for ET is NOT over. 68 of these are about the size of Earth, and 54 are at a distance from their stars where liquid water should be able to exist. Kepler, launched in 2009, was especially sent out to hunt for extrasolar planets with suitable conditions to host extraterrestrial life.
Space.com quotes SETI's Seth Shostak as saying, "I think it's heartening in the sense that we certainly had hoped that this was going to be the case. What you need is not 50 candidates, you need a lot more, but the facts are, this suggests there are a lot more. Earth-like worlds might be as common as ants at a picnic. Kepler is helping scientists refine some of the key parameters used in the Drake equation, the formula that predicts the likelihood of communication with intelligent aliens. It's based on seven factors: the rate of star formation in the galaxy, the fraction of stars that have planets, the fraction of planets that are habitable, the percent of those that actually develop life, the percent of those that develop intelligent life, the fraction of civilizations that have a technology that can broadcast their presence into space, and the length of time those signals would be broadcasted. Space.com quotes Shostak as saying, "The trouble is, even if you know six of the seven terms very well that seventh could still kill you."
He thinks we have very little idea just how long alien civilizations are likely to last to continue broadcasting a signal. He says, "It may be that there are many, many worlds that are like Earth but only a few have life. Or maybe a lot have life but very few produce clever critters that can wire together a radio transmitter." Or maybe they don't NEED a transmitter--maybe they're right here. A lot of contactees certainly think so, and Anne Strieber has collected 13 interviews with people like Michael Hill, just for our subscribers.