Humanity has long wondered if life exists elsewhere beyond Earth. With the universe being so mind-numbingly vast, the very idea that our tiny, waterlogged rock should alone harbor life seems so … wasteful.
To sate our curiosity, NASA catalogs exoplanets orbiting Milky Way stars to look for potential cradles of extraterrestrial life, such as Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet orbiting in its star’s habitable zone. And the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute searches space for clues of alien civilizations by, for example, scanning for the residuals of communication technology like narrow-band radio transmissions.
But is it possible we’ve set our gaze too far to the horizon? Perhaps the greatest chance we have of finding life beyond Earth isn’t orbiting some distant star but can be found in our own solar backyard.