I have always enjoyed Hollywood movies like “War of the Worlds”, “Independence day”, and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Unfortunately, the popularity of such movies changed our expectations regarding the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe.

I don’t know if little green men exist. I do know that the science community is attempting to determine the existence of basic life on planets neighboring Earth, as well as planets beyond our solar system. With the help of scientific methods, we are just now beginning to answer a question that has existed since the dawn of humankind: are we alone? Today’s hearing will review real efforts concerning the search for life elsewhere in the universe. I want to thank the distinguished member from Texas, Lamar Smith, for suggesting that the Subcommittee review this topic.

Unlike Hollywood movies, Viking and Mars Pathfinder space probes allowed us to actually view the real Martian landscape, consider the possibility of water for supporting basic life forms on Mars, and search for intelligent life across the universe. Indeed, Earth itself has provided us with valuable insight as to the possible nature of extraterrestrial life. Today we look to our panel of experts to explain how science will help us sort fact from fiction.