Home » Revealed: Government plans for finding alien life

Revealed: Government plans for finding alien life

The government appears to be taking the search for aliens seriously (Picture: Getty)

The government is officially gearing up for the discovery of aliens, a move described as ‘long overdue’ by the UK’s leading UFO expert.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is currently researching how it will react to the so-called ‘black swan’ event that is discovering extraterrestrial life, including announcing the find to the public. 

A black swan event is an unpredictable event that has wide-ranging consequences, but in hindsight appears to have been inevitable.

The report is investigating whether a plan already exists – none has ever been made public – what a plan would look like and how the UK can be ‘on the front foot’ should such an astounding scientific discovery finally be made.

It is being conducted over six months and will be finalised in July, at which point a new government could be in receipt of it.

An internal report will be presented to the DSIT Permanent Secretary setting out recommendations for an action plan including opportunities, challenges and areas of expertise.

While a summary of the work states the primary focus of the report will be ‘the impact on the science landscape’, it will also consider the wider impact.

Humans have pondered the existence of other lifeforms, at least on record, since medieval times. In recent decades, reports of UFOs have soared, the most famous being the Roswell incident in 1947, when a craft allegedly crashed in the New Mexico desert.

The site of the famous Roswell incident (Picture: Getty)

Looking outward, scientists around the world are focused on the search for extraterrestrial life (SETI), scanning the skies for signs of other beings, whether microscopic or advanced civilisations.

Should a definitive discovery be made, the ramifications for science, governments and society will be significant, hence many in the industry arguing for better planning.

One such voice is Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Nick Pope says plans for a response to finding alien life are long overdue (Picture: N Pope)

‘I’m very pleased to hear this study is being carried out, because it’s long overdue,’ said Mr Pope. ‘Rumours are circulating in the scientific community that strong evidence of a biosignature has already been detected by the James Webb Space Telescope, and whatever might have been found, it’s very possible that an announcement about a biosignature – or perhaps even a techosignature – is imminent. 

‘As always, it’s better to have a plan and not need it, than need it and not have it.’

A biosignature is any characteristic, such as an element or molecule, that offers evidence of past or present alien life. Technosignatures are any property or effect that shows past or present technology.

‘DSIT rightly categorises the discovery of extraterrestrial life as a black swan scientific event,’ said Mr Pope. ‘It’s arguably the ultimate black swan scientific event. The societal impact of finding extraterrestrial life is impossible to overstate. It would arguably be the biggest and most important scientific discovery of all time, and the most impactful. 

‘This is particularly true if we find intelligent life, especially if we were to interact with it in some way. This would have profound effects on almost every aspect of society, including politics, religion, science, technology, and much more besides. 

‘In the worst case scenario, we might be facing an existential threat.’

Astronomers around the world are scanning the skies for signs of alien life (Picture: Getty)

Despite numerous countries conducting their own searches, there is little official guidance at any level regarding what will happen in the event of discovering alien life – or even making contact.

The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) has developed a Declaration of Principles, a set of general guidelines for such an event, but does little beyond establishing that the signal must be verified and the country that makes the discovery gets to share it with the world.

After that happens, there is little in place.

Mr Pope, who submitted the FOI request, said: ‘The societal reaction to Covid – ripping each other apart over masks and vaccines – doesn’t bode well, particularly when one remembers that governments had contingency plans for a global pandemic, so it was hardly an unanticipated event.

‘How would people react to finding evidence of an advanced civilisation on a planet orbiting a nearby star? Especially, as some believe, if they’re already sending probes here.’

The case study summary appears to focus on the idea that life would be found beyond Earth, noting numerous missions bound for other planets in the search.

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is one of the best hopes for life in the solar system (Picture: Nasa)

It said: ‘The convergence of rapid technological advancements, expanding knowledge of life’s resilience, and the identification of habitable exoplanets have brought us closer than ever to a monumental breakthrough. With missions to study the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, and tantalizing [sic] findings on Mars, we are ever closer to discovering habitable environments within our solar system. 

‘Additionally, the study of extremophiles on Earth and the use of AI to search for biosignatures have expanded our understanding and detection capabilities. As these factors align, the imminent discovery of extraterrestrial life promises to revolutionise our comprehension of the cosmos and propel us into an era of scientific exploration.’

Both Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) currently have missions bound for Jupiter’s icy moons, thought by many to be the best place to find life in the solar system, while last month the US agency confirmed it was progressing with its Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s organic-rich moon Titan.

Nasa’s Mars rover Perseverance, pictured here with the helicopter Ingenuity, is still searching for signs of life (Picture: Nasa/JPL)

In addition, land- and space-based satellites and radio antennae are continually searching for signs among the stars, while rovers on Mars continue to hunt for evidence of life on the Red Planet.

As Mr Pope mentioned, rumours are swirling that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has already found evidence of life.

In September, Nasa revealed the groundbreaking satellite had detected traces of dimethyl sulphide, a compound that on Earth is only produced by life, primarily phytoplankton.

Many argue that if – or when – humans discover life beyond their own planet, it will be microscopic. Perhaps it will be the telltale signs of long gone bacteria on Mars, or deep-sea dwelling microbes on an icy moon.

While that finding may not have the same societal impact as discovering an advanced civilisation, it will still be momentous.

And if scientists do in fact make contact, the ramifications will be even greater.

Mr Pope added: ‘Sceptics will say “you can’t get here from there”, but in a universe nearly 14 billion years old there might be civilisations out there a billion years ahead of us, and who’s to say they haven’t figured out a workaround to what scientists generally regard as the impenetrable barrier of light speed. 

‘Some theoretical physicists speculate about wormholes and warp drive, and it’s interesting that as part of the contract associated with the Pentagon’s AATIP – Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program – work, scientific papers were written on subjects that included anti-gravity, warp drive and wormholes.

‘I hope the DSIT study will include input from the Ministry of Defence, because while it may be highly classified, the MoD may have information that would be useful to DSIT. 

‘The defence and national security implications of this issue shouldn’t be overlooked.’

Metro.co.uk contacted the DSIT, but purdah restrictions during the election period and the report being in progress prevented further comment.


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