Say that one of NASA's probes discovers definite evidence of life outside of Earth. Does NASA have any procedures in place on how to deal with such a situation? For instance, do they have to inform someone first before the go the press? Do they even go to the press?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Undo This is not a duplicate because it is about the broader case of extraterrestrial life (not intelligent extraterrestrial life) as handled by a narrower body (NASA instead of "any country"). $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Dec 12, 2013 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Related: space.stackexchange.com/questions/574/… $\endgroup$
    – Undo
    Dec 12, 2013 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


I am not aware of any official procedure, and I don't really think one is needed or useful. The NASA administrator will go the White House first, and they will decide who to talk to first, how to assess the veracity of the evidence, what other government agencies should be consulted, and when and how to announce the findings.

The reason that I don't think that a procedure is useful, other than talking to the White House, is that the White House will decide what to do in real time without looking at some procedure that someone wrote a while back, knowing nothing about what the nature of the discovery might be or the current state of affairs. In other words, they will ignore the procedure.

We can look at the one example so far, which is ALH84001. The White House certainly did get involved, and Clinton even spoke to the press about it.

  • $\begingroup$ So the procedure is basically: tell the White House and let them decided what to do? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2013 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ Any source for the procedure "The NASA administrator will go the White House"? $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2013 at 18:18

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