A Pioneering Astronaut Made A Bold Claim About The Existence Of Alien Life

In 1991 Helen Sharman made history as the first British person to leave planet Earth. The now-famous research chemist spent just over a week on board the space station Mir with a team of Soviet cosmonauts, so she knows a thing or two about what lies beyond our planet. So when Sharman released a report detailing her surprising views on extraterrestrial life, members of the scientific community all over the world were left in awe of her findings.

Of course, Sharman isn’t alone in speculating about alien life. Ever since humans first gazed up at the stars, we’ve been asking ourselves the same question: are we alone in the universe? Hoping to find the answer, scientists began actively experimenting with ways to communicate with distant planets back in the 19th century. And as technology evolves, this field of science is only gaining more and more momentum.

A major breakthrough came in the early 1960s when astronomer Frank Drake came up with a game-changing formula – one that is still used by scientists today. He claimed that by multiplying seven unique values together, researchers could get an accurate number of how many intelligent civilizations might be out there... and if they would be able to communicate with us.

As it's now called, the 'Drake equation' has produced an extremely wide array of estimates as to the number of intelligent civilizations out there – ranging from billions to zero. To many, then, it’s viewed as little more than a theoretical tool. But if the upper estimates of intelligent life are true, how close are we to understanding these alien civilizations?

In any case, there have been some investigations that have yielded some promising results. In 1976 NASA’s Viking Project was the first mission to successfully arrive on the surface of Mars, and it recorded some truly startling information. According to an experiment, nutrients in the soil were being metabolized into methane – suggesting the presence of organic life.