"Scientists haven't found ET just yet, but they may be pinning down the best places and ways to look..." was the message that came from the Astrobiology Science Conference according to a recent article.
Scientists at the conference were still eager to find life elsewhere in the universe said the article and, quoting Mary Voytek, astrobiology senior scientist at NASA Headquarters, the article continued, "We're interested and prepared to discover any form of life."
This comes hot on the heels of comments made by noted astrophysicist Stephen Hawkings who has said he "strongly believes in aliens" and warning that "Earth could be at risk from an invasion."
But before you start panicking it should be remembered that this isn't the first time Hawkings has expressed his belief in there being extraterrestrial life. At that time though he claimed it was dumber than us.
In 2008, during a speech to mark the 50th birthday of NASA at George Washington University, Professor Hawkings said "The universe is teeming with alien life but little of it is intelligent." "... if you meet an alien," he said, "you could be infected with a disease to which you have no resistance." (Of course after reading HG Well's War of the Worlds I was looking to microbes to save us from the nasty aliens :)
He then went on to say the odds were in favour of the existence of suitable planets ripe for colonisation. "We cannot envision visiting them with current technology, but we should make interstellar travel a long-term aim," he said.
So, to recap, when NASA finds a likely planet we should send out ships to colonise it "for the good of humanity" but if we run in to any nasty aliens we shouldn't talk to them in case they notice us and if we have to shake their hands... or tentacles or whatever... remember to wash your hands.