Experts weigh hunt for unearthly life in solar system

Carolyn Porco and Enceladus

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco shows a graphic that compares the size of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, with the British Isles. (Breakthrough Initiatives Photo)

STANFORD, Calif. — Are there microbes falling in the snows of Enceladus? Could a drone fly to biological hot spots on Titan? Is life floating in the sulfurous clouds of Venus?

All those extraterrestrial locales — plus Mars and Europa — had their turn in the spotlight on Thursday at the third annual Breakthrough Discuss conference on Stanford University’s campus. The gathering was organized by the Breakthrough Initiatives, a program created by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and his wife Julia to spotlight future frontiers in the search for life beyond Earth.

The program is supporting the radio-based search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, through Breakthrough Listen. It’s also backing Breakthrough Starshot, a decades-long campaign aimed at sending blizzards of beam-powered nanoprobes to the Alpha Centauri star system.

This week’s proceedings signal that Breakthrough’s quest will focus broadly on our own solar system as well.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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