The quest to conquer space and link up with whatever intelligent life might reside out there

Humans have never wanted to feel alone in the universe. In ancient times, they looked to the heavens and imagined a realm teeming with magnificent but fallible gods. Later, they came to believe a single omnipotent god resided there and welcomed the spirits of ordinary but deserving believers. As humankind developed technological prowess, many came to regard the heavens as home to beings not unlike Earth dwellers, just smarter and in possession of better machines—like flying saucers, mother ships and death rays. As humans came to understand their own planet, they learned that life can abide in extreme conditions. The bacteria living and multiplying in heat of 482 degrees Fahrenheit near volcanic vents in the ocean floor indicate life could also arise on inhospitable exoplanets and moons. In this special section, Luckbox checks in on this planet’s progress in space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life.

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