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Should we search for extraterrestrial life?

Gazing up at the stars, it's hard not to wonder if we're really alone in the universe. Science fiction has given fans looks into alien life, some friendly and some...not-so-friendly. But new scientific advancements and fields of research have allowed humans to look further into the sky and search our galaxy for signs of life. While some believe that this could benefit humans, others worry that we might not find answers. Should we keep looking up, or is it time to keep our eyes on the ground?


A Possible Sign Of Life Right Next Door To Earth, On Venus

Searching for Life Beyond Earth, Finding Our Dreams Instead

Additional resources to think about

Is there life on other planets? | BBC My World
Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock answers a viewer question about finding life in the universe.

The Farthest
Explore the site for the PBS program The Farthest and learn about NASA's Voyager program and its impact on the search for extraterrestrial life.

SETI Life in the Universe Curriculum Files
Find grade-specific curriculum packages from the SETI Institute, the foremost advocacy and research organization for scientists searching for extraterrestrial life.

NOVA Exoplanet Lab
In this interactive game, join the search for exoplanets and learn what it takes to find worlds with the possibility for life.

The Search For Life Beyond Earth
In this Bloomberg Quicktake, learn how scientists have searched for extraterrestrial life and the future of research.

Can We Use Pollution to Find Aliens?
In this NOVA short, researchers look into using pollution to find life on other worlds.

Carl Sagan On Extraterrestrials | Blank on Blank
Listen to an interview with astronomer Carl Sagan as he talks about extraterrestrial life, media portrayals of aliens, and more.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)? 
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • What's the emotional appeal? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Should we search for extraterrestrial life?

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