Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut, believes aliens exist — though she didn’t exactly see them on her way up to the Mir space station in 1991.
The now 56-year-old space pioneer offered her opinion on extraterrestrial life in a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian’s Observer Magazine, which published her remarks on Sunday. The story does not include the questions that elicited her comments.
“Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it,” Sharman told the publication. The former astronaut did not offer any first-hand evidence. Instead, she suggested that aliens likely exist because of the near-infinite possibilities presented by the vastness of space.
“There are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of different forms of life,” she said.
Sharman also expanded her definition of “aliens” beyond the pop-culture notion of little green men in flying saucers.
“Will they be like you and me, made up of carbon and nitrogen? Maybe not,” she said. “It’s possible they’re here right now and we simply can’t see them.”
That definition could include alien microbial life — something scientists are currently trying to find on alien worlds such as Mars and Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.
Sharman is a trained chemist who spent eight days aboard the Soviet Union’s Mir space station in May 1991. She was later appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire and the Order of St. Michael and St. George. The latter honour is typically bestowed for service in a foreign country or in relation to foreign or Commonwealth affairs. She currently works in the chemistry department at Imperial College London.
Sharman also told the Observer about what it’s like to go to space and how it changed her life.
“There’s no greater beauty than looking at the Earth from up high,” she said.