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Michael E. Salla, Ph.D.

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first "habitable zone" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

It’s official – an earth-like planet in the habitable region of a distant solar system has just been confirmed to exist. The planet, Kepler-22b, sits in the so-called Goldilocks region of a solar system where it is neither too hot nor too cold for hosting life as we know it. Scientists associated with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Project announced the discovery at a Press Conference at the Ames Research Center early on Monday. The scientific results will be published in the next edition of The Astrophysics Journal. The announcement takes the scientific community one step closer to announcing that the conditions for life can be found on numerous exoplanets scattered throughout the galaxy. More importantly, the announcement takes our world one step closer to realizing that extraterrestrial life is not only scientifically feasible, but likely exists throughout our vast galaxy with its more than 300 billion stars. The confirmation of the first habitable exoplanet opens the door to a comprehension discussion of the political and social consequences of the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Such discussion has been mainly limited to the field of exopolitics where researchers have examined claims that extraterrestrials not only exist, but have been secretly monitoring our world; and have even been visiting us since the dawn of the atomic age.

Even though the Kepler mission released news of the discovery of earth like planets in the habitable zone earlier in February 2011, these were only “candidate planets”. Further observations were needed to confirm if what was seen was actually a planet or not. Confirmation did eventually arrive. Here is how William Borucki, a principal investigator at NASA Ames Research and team leader for the discovery of Kepler-22b, described the stunning confirmation:

Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet … The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season…. Of the 54 “habitable” zone planet candidates seen so far, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed.

Put simply, Kepler-22b was included as a candidate exoplanet soon after the launch of the Kepler Mission in March 2009. Continued observations have confirmed its existence, and opened the door to further announcements of exoplanets to be found in the Goldilocks region of distant solar systems.

NASA’s Press Release gave details about the confirmed exoplanet’s location and orbit:

Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our world. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.

The announcement was made at the Kepler Mission’s inaugural science conference hosted at Ames from December 5-9. Here’s how NASA described the present tally of exoplanets:

The Kepler team is … announcing 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. Since the last catalog was released in February, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler has increased by 89 percent and now totals 2,326. Of these, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter.

According to Alan Boss, a Carnegie Institute researcher that is part of the Kepler Mission:

This discovery supports the growing belief that we live in a universe crowded with life … Kepler is on the verge of determining the actual abundance of habitable, Earth-like planets in our galaxy’.

The confirmation of Kepler-22b as the first habitable exoplanet opens the door to the study of the social and political consequences of extraterrestrial life. Fortunately, some scientific institutions such as the Royal Society have endorsed such an exopolitical discussion. One likely impact of Kepler-22b is that more scientific institutions will follow the lead of the Royal Society. Eventually, the scientific community will need to examine the vast evidence accumulated over the last six decades, that extraterrestrial life is not only real and found throughout the galaxy, but they have been watching, and even visiting us, for a very long time.

© Copyright 2011. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author’s permission. For permission please contact: drsalla@exopolitics.org

Further Reading

Michael E. Salla, Ph.D.

The discovery of exoplanets is stimulating scientific discussion of extraterrestrial life and its scientific and societal implications

The proceedings of a scientific conference that studied the societal consequences of extraterrestrial life has just been released. Organized and hosted by the Royal Society in October 2010, the conference was titled, “The detection of extra-terrestrial life and the consequences for science and society.” The conference received wide international attention when one of the participants, Dr Mazlan Othman, was wrongly described as being on the verge of being appointed by the UN to become Earth’s official liaison to extraterrestrial life. In the published proceedings, Othman sets the record straight. She believes that the UN already has a mechanism in place to deal with the detection and contact with extraterrestrial life, but work needs to be done in formalizing this by UN member states. Other conference participants endorse Othman’s recommendation, and further believe that the time has come to study the societal consequences of extraterrestrial life.

The continuing discovery of exoplanets – over 500 have been discovered by December 10, 2010 – has emboldened many scientists to come out publicly with recommendations concerning the existence of extraterrestrial life. Beginning with the premise that extraterrestrial life is almost certain to exist, Professor Stephen Hawking raised scientific eyebrows with claims in his 2010 television series that extraterrestrials are likely to be resource predators. The existence of exoplanets is opening the floodgates to scientific speculation about extraterrestrial life, and programs in astrobiology are becoming increasingly popular. Princeton University, for example, just launched its first astrobiology program and took an interdisciplinary path. However, Princeton’s program is only focused on a strictly scientific study of the consequences of extraterrestrial life, and eschews any social science or societal component.

Such an approach is wrong, according to the two scientists that organized the Royal Society conference. In their introduction to the conference proceedings, Dr Martin Dominik and Prof John C. Zarnecki endorsed studying the societal aspects of any discovery of extraterrestrial life. They stressed the importance of determining the possible motivations of extraterrestrial life and any search for such life:

The detection and further study of extra-terrestrial life will fundamentally challenge our view of nature, including ourselves, and therefore the field of astrobiology can hardly be isolated from its societal context, including philosophical, ethical and theological perspectives. With the detection of extra-terrestrial life being technically feasible, one needs to address whether perceived societal benefits command us to search for it, or whether such an endeavor may rather turn out to be a threat to our own existence

Dr Dominik and Prof Zarnecki went on to point out the importance of having in place the political mechanism by which humanity can responsibly deal with the future detection of extraterrestrial life:

While scientists are obliged to assess benefits and risks that relate to their research, the political responsibility for decisions arising following the detection of extra-terrestrial life cannot and should not rest with them. Any such decision will require a broad societal dialogue and a proper political mandate. If extra-terrestrial life happens to be detected, a coordinated response that takes into account all the related sensitivities should already be in place.

Their view was supported by the current head of UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs, Dr Mazlan Othman who said:

The continued search for extra-terrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that someday humankind will receive signals from extra-terrestrials. When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The United Nations forums are a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.

So where to from here? The Royal Society and like-minded scientific bodies such as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, are likely to continue hosting meetings discussing extraterrestrial life and its societal consequences – an endeavor some believe falls under the rubric of exopolitics. More universities are likely to follow the path of Princeton and offer interdisciplinary astrobiology programs that use methods from the natural sciences for discussing extraterrestrial life; and perhaps, in the near future, open the door to formal discussion of its societal consequences. But what about those interested in a comprehensive study of the societal implications of extraterrestrial life, and evidence that such life is currently visiting Earth in the here and now?

One solution is offered by a small but pioneering program hosted by the Exopolitics Institute (a 501(c)3 educational organization based in Hawaii) that offers a Certificate/Diploma program for those interested in exopolitics. Students can enroll and complete online up to six university level courses that examine various aspects of the societal and political implications of extraterrestrial life. While the Exopolitics Institute’s program is not yet accredited with any tertiary organization, this is expected to change as it expands in size and offerings over the next 18 months. The Spring 2011 semester, which features two courses, “Introduction to Exopolitics” and “Developing the Road to Disclosure”, begins next week on January 17.

The future is bright for those interested in studying the societal aspects of extraterrestrial life, and some organizations such as the Royal Society are pioneering efforts to do so. Together with ad hoc programs and courses offered by the Exopolitics, Institute and other educational bodies, the general public can begin comprehensively studying the consequences of extraterrestrial life in all its aspects, scientific, societal, religious and political.

Further Reading:

© Copyright 2011. Michael E. Salla. Exopolitics.org

Permission is granted to include extracts of this article on websites and email lists with a link to the original. This article is copyright © and should not be added in its entirety on other websites or email lists without author’s permission. For permission please contact: drsalla@exopolitics.org

Kavli Royal Society International Centre. Venue of Oct 4-5 conference: "Towards a scientific and societal agenda on extra-terrestrial life." Photo: Royal Society
Kavli Royal Society International Centre. Venue of Oct 4-5 conference: "Towards a scientific and societal agenda on extra-terrestrial life." Photo: Royal Society

This beautiful Georgian country house, set in 80 acres, oozing tranquillity, was an idyllic and suitably impressive location for the grand theme of the Royal Society’s satellite meeting on the 4th and 5th of October 2010, organised by Dr Martin Dominik, University of St Andrews and Professor John Zarnecki, from The Open University. Speakers and panellists were drawn from various countries, fields and groups, including SETI, NASA, Space Law, Geochemistry, Ecology, Planetary Sciences, Astronomy, Theology, Literature, History, Microwave sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology Linguist specialists, Space Technology, Evolutionary Developmental Systems Theorists, to name some, and I am sure I have not covered all the disciplines gathered. Some delegates also came from related areas such as Astrobiology. I was there as an observer, under the flag of the Exopolitics Institute, founded by Dr. Michael Salla PhD., 2005, to address serious questions arising from the social, diplomatic, political, economical and technical implications of an extra terrestrial presence on Earth, a field gaining ground world wide; the UK node is run by David Griffin.

The UN presence was conspicuous in the petite form of Astrophysicist, Professor Mazlan Othan, whose role as Head of the ‘Office for Outer Space Affairs,’ (UNoosa) made an impact, drawing some controversy from a brief flurry of press attention when a story appearing on the 26/27th September in The Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, and Fox News mooted that she would announce her forthcoming new role as chief alien ambassador. It seems her comments, asserting that we should be prepared for knowledge of ET’s presence acted as a gateway for this idea, which she, in jocular tone, categorically denied in a quip that topped and tailed her brief talk saying that she was not the contact for ET. Her talk gave nothing to the ET idea, rather to say that there were perhaps one or two bodies, who could possibly be candidates in terms of point of dissemination for information, like COSPAR (Committee On Space Research EST. 1958) or CUPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space est. 1958), as well as flagging up protocols that needed to be adhered to in getting material or presentations to the UN. And at least Professor Othman appeared open minded to a colleague’s question of whether or not she and the panel would be interested in knowing about the work of Exopolitics (though I can’t recall if that word was specifically used), and Professor Othman, who said she had not heard of it, said she would be interested, I hope it was not an empty response.

The overall theme of the latter part of the first day, was much in the vein of a SETI pitching seminar, with various people stating the case for a bigger and better SETI, with presentations showing how far SETI can go in education and merchandising, but little was made of the fact that in the 50 years since SETI began, there has been zero success in obtaining any signals that suggest ET is alive or anywhere at all, in the mind boggling reaches of the universes. The lack of big and powerful enough telescopes was cited, though it is expected the new Allen Telescope Array would be successful, but the dilemma if they find a signal, who would be responsible for contact protocol? (No one seemed to think physical contact a possibility). Further, the overarching language used in referencing contact, followed Stephen Hawking’s lead in fearing for the fate of humanity, using human behaviour as a template. Risk perception, how do we deal with it? That ‘monster type, aggressive ET’s can live anywhere, another, a personal nightmare would be ET’s superiority, another said there is ‘more danger from asteroids than from an ET invasion,’ whilst some might contact humanity via technology, intelligent machines.

No one in this meeting was asking whether ET had eluded their scopes, and was possibly already visiting Earth, let alone interacting with human processes, and from my own investigations, it is, without a doubt, from the clear mountain of evidence and ongoing public revelations, that this scenario is nothing less than a fact, shocking as that may be to some.

I don’t know how such a myopic world view can possibly hold water when we have so much material, how many elephants can we fit into this mindset? We have an official document, the Cometa Report (France 1999), emanating from the Institute of Higher Studies for National Defence, where serious study was done that included Generals, surmising that the implications for ET reality is huge, that increased sightings that cannot be explained, are likely the UFO hypothesis…there is the evidence of testimony from scientists and military personnel presented at The National Press Club in 2001, known as ‘The Disclosure Project’ (Dr Steven Greer 2001). There was Canadian, Wilbert B. Smith, head of Canada’s Radio/Frequency Regulations, who came to know the reality of ET, working with US authorities in the 1950s, from which came a memo, saying; ‘subject was classified ‘higher than the H-bomb’’ and that ‘Flying Saucers exist.’

The Affidavit of Walter G Haut stationed in Roswell Air base, revealed at his death, (died 2005), that in 1947, he was ordered to prepare a press release stating that the air force (US) had recovered a flying disc, (later retracted), and that he had seen bodies and the disc. USAF Airman Milton Torres, based in the UK 1957, told to shoot down a UFO. The Rendlesham Forest Incident of 1980/81 is well documented with first hand witness and real time audio recordings as a UFO was observed by military command. And, if we need a further smoking gun, then the Starchild Skull is on the verge of giving up its DNA secrets, which will, if all indications are correct, prove absolutely that ‘dad’ was not of human origin (Lloyd Pye project director).

I met with Professor John Elliot of Leeds Metropolitan University UK, reader in Intelligence Engineering and member of the International Academy of Astronautics, SETI Permanent Study Group and Post Detection Task Force. His field includes computation modelling of communication encompassing multidimensional aspects as well as decipherment of an ET signal to manage dissemination and social impact. I thought his sphere would be appropriate to broach another area of research linked with ET communications. I asked him if he would be willing to look at and feed back his opinions on communications received in the form of languages and scripts by various people, from their interaction with ET. He responded in the affirmative, though was unaware of such material.  He was similarly intrigued by the Starchild skull, also mentioned in a question by my colleague, Belinda McKenzie to a panel, as to their openness to hear about results from full DNA analysis when available, so hopefully we will have contributed in some small way.  On another tack, I was I have to say, relieved to hear Professor Frans von der Dunk (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Law) say that no one can own the moon legally, that it is not possible, even though there are one or two parties who have made a fortune out of selling leases of plots on the moon.

Another often reiterated notion during the meeting, that space travel is too expensive; with the current outmoded system, this is true. But since the early 1900’s we have had, with Nikola Tesla’s discoveries of how to tap into ‘Radiant Energy’, knowledge of a wireless, abundant and virtually free technology, and we would have been very different technologically today, had humanity been allowed it, instead of it being scuppered by JP Morgan, unable to see how he could charge for it.  But we now have another opportunity more than 80 years on, to realise a similar type of alternative energy system in the form of the SEG (Searl Effect Generator) which UK Professor John Searl first created in 1946 as a boy of 14.  His test models in the 1960/70’s went to Australia and New York in 30 minutes, and he says the moon should take about an hour. There is currently a new movement in place in the US to bring this technology to fruition, if funding prevails, which would absolutely negate any problems in the near future for all our power needs, including travel into our solar system as well as in time, intergalactic travel.

I do wonder, with the call for people to join the NASA funded Focus Group, in ‘workshops without walls’, apparently open to all, whether groups like Exopolitics would be welcome with the diametrically opposite standpoint that ET is already a reality. If the science community is willing to be all embracing, whether articles have been peer-reviewed, or gone through the unwieldy process of admittance, or being seen as viable and valuable from their point of view, then maybe we do stand a chance of a holistic, integrated, useful outcome, we will creep toward that ‘gradual increase in legitimacy, but this needs to be accelerated – and frankly, I doubt this will be the happen any time soon, but I stand to be corrected. Time will tell.

By Joanne Summerscales

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