Is there life on other planets? Here’s what Americans think

Jamie BallardData Journalist
September 21, 2020, 5:30 PM UTC

Last week, scientists announced that they had found phosphine gas on Venus, which suggests that there could possibly be life on the planet.

MIT Planetary Scientist and co-author of the discovery, Sara Seager, spoke about the discovery in an interview with Vox.  

“[After searching] all the known chemistry — volcanoes, photochemistry, lightning — we didn’t find anything that could produce more than the tiniest amount of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere. So we’re left with two possibilities. One is that there is some kind of unknown chemistry, which seems unlikely. And the other possibility is that there’s some kind of life, which seems even more unlikely. So that’s where we’re at.”  

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Recent data from a YouGov poll of more than 7,000 US adults finds that nearly half (47%) believe that there are basic life forms on other planets within our solar system.  

Almost one-quarter (23%) of American say they don’t think there are basic life forms on other planets.  
 
The idea of life on other planets doesn’t appear to be particularly partisan: 50 percent of Independents, along with 49 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of Republicans believe that there are basic life forms on other planets.  

Methodology: YouGov asked 7,058 US adults: “Do you think basic life forms exist on other planets within our solar system? The survey was carried out online September 15 – 16, 2020. Data were weighted on age, education, gender, race, and Census region to be nationally representative of adults in the United States.    

Image: Getty