The Obama administration officially announced Monday that the government has found no evidence of extraterrestrial life.
In response to a public petition, the White House said it has "no evidence" of alien life, or that extraterrestrials have "contacted or engaged" any member of the human race. Furthermore, there is no "credible information" that indicates that any proof of aliens has been covered up by the U.S. government or anyone else.
"The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth," wrote Phil Larson, who handles space policy and communications for the White House.
The statement was provided as part of a new White House initiative that promises formal responses to any public petition that receives more than 5,000 signature in 30 days. The first petition to break that threshold asked President Obama to legalize marijuana.
The latest petition asked Obama "to disclose to the American people the long-withheld knowledge of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings and call for open congressional hearings to allow the people to become aware of this subject through those whose voices have been silenced by unconstitutional secrecy oaths."
The administration said proof of alien life doesn't exist, though it's not for lack of trying. Larson detailed a handful of initiatives being undertaken by the U.S. government and others to plumb the depths of space for potential alternative lifeforms.
The Search for ExtraTerrestial Intelligence (SETI), set up by the U.S. government and now funded by private sources, uses massive telescopes to probe the outer reaches of space for signals sent by aliens. Kepler is a NASA spacecraft that orbits the Earth and searches the Milky Way galaxy for other planets in the "Goldilocks" zone — the not-too-hot, not-too-cold sweet spot that has been said to carry the potential to support life.
And NASA soon plans to send Curiosity, an automobile-like rover, to Mars to examine rocks, soil and other materials for signs that the neighboring planet might have harbored life in the past.
While we Earthlings have yet to find any proof of life beyond our atmosphere, Larson noted that many experts believe that, statistically speaking, "the odds are pretty high" that life exists somewhere among the trillions of stars out there. But given the vast distances of the universe, the chance of any contact with intelligent lifeforms would be "extremely small."