NASA can’t keep it secret if it shows up on Google! – Scientists are expanding the search for extraterrestrial life?and they’ve set their sights on some very unearthly planets?and it turns out there are LOTS of them! But if we DO find life on other planets, there’s a strong chance the general public will never hear about it.

NASA scientists are looking for cold “Super-Earths,” which are giant, “snowball” planets that astronomers have spied on the outskirts of faraway solar systems and which could potentially support some kind of life. Such planets are plentiful; experts estimate that one-third of all solar systems contain super-Earths.

Astronomer Scott Gaudi says, “We know there are a lot of super-Earths out there, and the next generation of telescopes will be even better at spotting them?and we will almost certainly be able to detect these habitable planets if they exist?A more worrisome question is, if these planets have life on them, how would we know it? We have a hard enough time trying to figure out where there’s life on Europa [a moon of Jupiter], let alone something that’s hundreds of light years away.”

Despite the name, a super-Earth has little in common with the Earth that we know, other than the fact it is has a solid surface. A super-Earth is covered with ice, and may have a much thicker atmosphere than Earth?s. But researchers think they may have a liquid ocean that supports life.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star. This is an important step along the trail of finding the chemical biotracers of extraterrestrial life as we know it.

The Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot for life. But the Hubble observations are a proof-of-concept demonstration that the basic chemistry for life can be measured on planets orbiting other stars. Organic compounds can also be a by-product of life processes, and their detection on an Earth-like planet may someday provide the first evidence of life beyond Earth.

Previous observations of HD 189733b by Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope found water vapor. Earlier this year, Hubble astronomers reported that they found methane in the planet’s atmosphere. Is this planet ALSO suffering from global warming? NASA is going to explore that next: Swain plans to search for molecules in the atmospheres of other exoplanets. He also plans to use them to study changes that may be present in exoplanet atmospheres to learn something about the weather on these distant worlds.

But if NASA does discover that alien life is real (and maybe even visiting us), will they keep it a secret? In the December 22nd edition of the Denver Examiner, Jeff Peckman quotes former Swiss delegate to the ESA (European Space Agency) Peter Creola as saying, “?You cannot unconditionally trust NASA?I always found it astonishing that sightings of silent crafts, which are obviously not bound to our gravitational laws, are being ignored by science?at least officially.”

Meanwhile, the wave of UFO sightings in Australia that took place this summer continues?and this time, the UFO was spotted on a Google map! In the December 11th edition of the Daily Telegraph, Brett McKeehan quotes a local resident who spotted the craft when he was Googling the place where he lives as saying, “I live in the street on the corner and it has a beautiful view of the harbor. I was just trying to get a look on Google when I saw it. It just caught my eye?I couldn’t get back to bed. I thought it was a UFO straight away.” To see the Google image, 22049,24785075-5001021,00.html,click here.

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