Alien life on Pluto is not a far-fetched possibility, according to Professor Brian Cox.
In an interview with The Times, Cox explained how recent images captured by the New Horizons probe could act as evidence for life on the dwarf planet.
“The probe ‘showed you that there may well be a subsurface ocean on Pluto,” he told The Times.
“[This] means – if our understanding of life on Earth is even slightly correct – that you could have living things there.”
In June, NASA released a series of stunning images showing Pluto’s icy mountain ranges as high as the Rockies.
An image provided by NASA shows a region near Pluto’s equator with a range of mountains captured by the New Horizons spacecraft
Cox believes that underneath the mountains, is an ocean warm enough to host organic chemistry that could hold the beginnings of life.
He later clarified on Twitter, “to be precise, liquid water is necessary but not sufficient for life, and there might be subsurface liquid water on Pluto,” the Daily Mail reports.
However, during his interview, he did warn against getting over excited about the possibility of finding alien life.
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“What science is telling us now is that complex life is probably rare,” he told The Times.
“We’re physically insignificant and yet probably very valuable.”
His comments follow a $100 million initiative from Professor Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner that aims to find alien life.
In a blog for The Huffington Post, Astronomer Royal voiced his support for the endeavour, saying “searches for alien life are worth the gamble, even if the odds are against us…”
“Searches for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) are a gamble. But they are surely a worthwhile one, even if there are heavy odds against success,” he writes.
And while life forms, be it on Pluto or any other planet, may not be what we expect, Lord Rees argues any communication between us and them would still be a momentous achievement.
“A manifestly artificial signal – even if we couldn’t decode it – would convey the momentous message that ‘intelligence’ wasn’t unique to the Earth and had evolved elsewhere.”