Direct Contact

  • Michael A. G. Michaud


Early fictional depictions of direct contact with extraterrestrials, like those by Lasswitz and Wells, assumed that spacecraft could carry living beings across interplanetary distances. Now we know that such journeys are possible for a civilization at our level of technological development. We already have landed men on Earth’s moon and are planning to transport humans to Mars. We also know that the home planets of alien civilizations, if they exist, are much farther away. Could extraterrestrials traverse interstellar space to our solar system?


Solar System Kuiper Belt Oort Cloud Interstellar Space Nearby Star 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Stapledon, 327–328.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In A.G.W. Cameron, editor, Interstellar Communication, Amsterdam, New York, Benjamin, 1963, 144–159.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    In Cameron, editor, 121–143.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Morrison, et al., 1977, 107.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Black, et al., 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Brin, “Xenology,” 69; Drake and Sobel, 120.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sullivan, 226; Shklovskii and Sagan, 449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Arthur C. Clarke, The Promise of Space, New York, Harper and Row, 1968, 313.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    In Cameron, editor, 147.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Goldsmith and Owen, 372.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Swift, 150.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Arthur C. Clarke, Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!, New York, St. Martin’s, 1999, 49–50.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See, among others, Michael A.G. Michaud, “Spacefl ight, Colonization, and Independence: A Synthesis,” JBIS, Vol. 30, Number 3 (March, 1977), 83–95 (Part One); Vol. 30, Number 6 (June, 1977), 203–212 (Part Two); Vol. 30, Number 9 (September, 1977), 323–331 (Part Three).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    A. Bond, et al., Project Daedalus: The Final Report on the BIS Starship Study, special issue of JBIS, 1978.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Clarke, Greetings, 52.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Clarke, in Bova and Preiss, editors, 307; Ian Crawford, “Where Are They?”, Scientific American, July 2000, 38-43.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    MacGowan and Ordway, 348; D.F. Spencer and L.D. Jaffe, “Feasibility of Interstellar Travel,” Astronautica Acta, Vol. 9 (1963), 49–59.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Robert L. Forward, A National Program for Interstellar Exploration, Malibu, CA, Hughes Research Laboratories Research Report 492, 1975.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Freeman Dyson, “Interstellar Propulsion Systems,” in Hart and Zuckerman, editors, 41–45. Forward reviewed propulsion options in his 1986 article “Feasibility of Interstellar Travel,” JBIS, Vol. 39 (1986), 379–384, and in “Ad Astra!”, JBIS, Vol. 49 (1996), 23–32. Paul Gilster gave us an updated survey in Centauri Dreams: Imagining and Planning Interstellar Exploration, New York, Copernicus, 2004.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Eugene F. Mallove and Robert L. Forward, Bibliography of Interstellar Travel and Communication, Malibu, CA, Hughes Research Laboratories Research Report 460, 1972; Robert L. Forward, Bibliography of Interstellar Travel and Communication-April 1977 Update, Malibu, CA, Hughes Research Laboratories Research Report 512, 1977; Gilster, 20; Eugene F. Mallove and Gregory L. Matloff, The Starfl ight Handbook, New York, Wiley, 1989; Casti, 389.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Robert L. Forward, Starwisp, Malibu, CA, Hughes Research Laboratories Research Report 555, 1983; Yoji Kondo, et al., editors, Interstellar Travel and Multi-Generation Space Ships, New York, Apogee Books, 2003, 57.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gilster, 235.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    MacGowan and Ordway, 253, 268.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Goldsmith, editor, 183.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Mallove and Matloff, 23; Kondo, 36–37; Gilster, 12; L.D. Jaffe, et al., “An Interstellar Precursor Mission,” JBIS, Vol. 33 (1980), 3–26; Richard A. Kerr, “Voyager 1 Crosses a New Frontier and May Save Itself from Termination,” Science, Vol. 308 (27 May 2005), 1237–1238; “Voyager Crosses Boundary,” Sky and Telescope, September 2005, 22.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Morrison, et al., editors, 1977, 108.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Project Daedalus, Special Issue of IBIS, 1978.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Achenbach, 147–148; Gilster, 11–13; James Glanz, “Engineers Dream of Practical Star Flight,” Science, Vol. 281 (7 August 1998), 765–767; Warren E. Leary, “NASA Mission Will Explore Solar System’s Frozen Edge,” The New York Times, 15 January 2006.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Arthur C. Clarke, introduction to Michael Benson, Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes, New York, Abrams, 2003, 11; Shostak, Sharing the Universe, 107–109.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Tipler, quoted in Kondo, et al., editors, 68.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Clarke, quoted in Mallove and Matloff, 4; John Kraus, “Gerard K. O’Neill on Space Colonization and SETI (interview),” Cosmic Search, Vol. 1, Number 2 (March 1979), 16–23. Also see Goldsmith, Voyage to the Milky Way, 225–226.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Grinspoon, 219.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Morrison, et al., editors, 1977, 108.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Bracewell, “Communications from Superior Galactic Communities.” Also see Ronald N. Bracewell, The Galactic Club: Intelligent Life in Outer Space, San Francisco, Freeman, 1975, 70-83; Morrison, et al., 107; O.G. Villard, Jr., et al., “LDEs, Hoaxes, and the Cosmic Repeater Hypothesis,” QST, LV (May 1971), 54–58.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Swift, 151; Morrison’s remark is in Cameron, editor, 263.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Frank J. Tipler, “Alien Life,” (review of Davoust’s The Cosmic Water Hole), Nature, Vol. 354 (28 November 1991), 334–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Christopher Rose and Gregory Wright, “Inscribed Matter as an Energy-Efficient Means of Communication with an Extraterrestrial Civilization,” Nature, Vol. 431 (3 September 2004), 47–49; Woodruff T. Sullivan, “Message in a Bottle,” Nature, Vol. 431 (2 September 2004), 27–28. Bracewell had hinted at such a concept 20 years earlier, writing that a substantial reference library could be compressible into the volume of an interstellar probe. In Cyril Ponnamperuma and A.G.W. Cameron, editors, Interstellar Communication: Scientific Perspectives, Boston, Houghton-Miffl in, 1974, 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Freeman J. Dyson, Letter to the editor, Scientific American, April 1964. Quoted in MacGowan and Ordway, 347.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Leslie R. Shepherd, “Interstellar Flight,” JBIS, Vol. 11 (1952), 149–167.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Mallove and Matloff, 199; Yoshinari Minami, “Traveling to the Stars: Possibilities Given by a Spacetime Featuring Imaginary Time,” JBIS, Vol. 56 (2003), 205–211.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Charles Sheffield, “Fly Me to the Stars,” in Kondo, et al., editors, 25; Stapledon, 329, 340; Mauldin, 163–164. Anthony R. Martin provided a useful overview of this concept in “World Ships-Concept, Cause, Cost, Construction, and Colonisation,” JBIS, Vol. 37 (1984), 243–253.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    J.D. Bernal, The World, The Flesh, and the Devil: An Inquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul, London, Jonathan Cape, 1970, 23–30, originally published in 1929. Also see Mallove and Matloff, 13; Gerard K. O’Neill, “The Colonization of Space,” Physics Today, September 1974, 32–40, reprinted in Goldsmith, editor, 283–292; Gerard K. O’Neill, The High Frontier, New York, Morrow, 1977; T.A. Heppenheimer, Colonies in Space, New York, Warner, 1977; G.L. Matloff, “Utilization of O’Neill’s Model I Lagrange Point Colony as an Interstellar Ark,” JBIS, Vol. 29 (1976), 775–785; Michaud, “Spacefl ight, Colonization, and Independence.”Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Sheffield, in Kondo, et al., editors, 20–28; Shostak, 141; Mauldin, 243.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Papagiannis, in Hart and Zuckerman, editors, 79; Michaud, “Spacefl ight, Colonization, and Independence.”Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Martin, “World Ships,” 251.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    R.W. Moir and W.L. Barr, “Analysis of Interstellar Spacecraft Cycling Between the Sun and Nearby Stars,” JBIS, Vol. 58 (2005), 332–341.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Sheffield, in Kondo, et al., editors, 26. Mark Ayre, et al. provided a useful overview of hibernation through cooling in “Morpheus—Hypometabolic Stasis in Humans for Long Term Space Flight,” JBIS, Vol. 57 (2004), 325–339. Scientists reported in 2005 that hydrogen sulfi de induces a state like suspended animation in mice. As core body temperature went down, oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide output declined to about 10% of normal. Eric Blackstone, et al., “H2S Induces a Suspended Antimation-Like State in Mice,” Science, Vol. 308 (22 April 2005), 518.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Feinberg and Shapiro, 431–432; Mauldin, 224; Achenbach, 65.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Clarke, The Promise of Space, 293; Mauldin, 161, citing a work by Fogg.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Mauldin, 225.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    J. Kelley Beatty, “Distant Planetoid Sedna Baffl es Astronomers,” Sky and Telescope, June 2004, 14–15. For a general overview of research on trans-Neptunian bodies, see John Davies, Beyond Pluto: Exploring the Outer Limits of the Solar System, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Mark Hopkins, “Future Earth Prosperity Will Depend on Resources in Space,” Ad Astra, Vol. 16, Number 2 (April-May-June 2004), 14.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Eric M. Jones and Ben R. Finney, “Interstellar Nomads,” in James D. Burke and April S. Whitt, editors, Space Manufacturing 1983, San Diego, Univelt (for the American Astronautical Society), 1983, 357–374; Eric Jones and Ben Finney, “Fastships and Nomads: Two Roads to the Stars,” in Ben R. Finney and Eric M. Jones, Editors, Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1985, 88–102.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Quoted in Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 382.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    John MacVey, Interstellar Travel, New York, Stein and Day, 1977,13; Michaud, “Spacefl ight, Colonization and Independence,” Part 2, 205. Also see Saul J. Adelman and Benjamin Adelman, Bound for the Stars, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1981, 294–298; Yoji Kondo, “Interstellar Travel and Multi-Generation Space Ships: An Overview”, in Kondo, et al., editors, 7–18; Robert H. Goddard, “The Ultimate Migration,” manuscript dated 14 January 1918. In The Goddard Biblio Log, Friends of the Goddard Library, 11 November 1972; Project Cyclops, 31; Michael Mautner, “Life in the Cosmological Future,” JBIS, Vol. 58 (2005), 167–180.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Barrow and Tipler, 590–591.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Clark and Clark, 208–209.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Darling, 102.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Rood and Trefil, 204.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    In Michaud, “SETI Hearings in Washington.”Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Stapledon, 332; Stephen Baxter, “A Human Galaxy: A Prehistory of the Future,” JBIS, Vol. 58 (2005), 138–142.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Achenbach, 317; Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 327.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Barrow and Tipler, 600.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Bracewell, in Hart and Zuckerman, editors, 37–38; R.N. Bracewell, “Man’s Role in the Galaxy,” Cosmic Search, Vol. 1, Number 2 (March 1979), 48–51.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    See, for example, Michael Balter, “Ancient DNA Yields Clues to the Puzzle of European Origins,” Science, Vol. 310 (11 November 2005), 964–965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Easterbrook, “Are We Alone?”; Asimov, A Choice of Catastrophes, 267; David G. Stephenson, “Extraterrestrial Cultures Within the Solar System?”, QJRAS, Vol. 20 (1979), 422–426 (reprinted in Goldsmith, editor, 246–249); Lamb, 180.Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Rood and Trefil, 206.Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    Jill Tarter, “Planned Observational Strategy for NASA’s First Systematic Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” in Ben R. Finney and Eric M. Jones, editors, Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1985, 314–329.Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Scot Lloyd Stride, “An Instrument-Based Method to Search for Extraterrestrial Interstellar Robotic Probes,” JBIS, Vol. 54, (2001), 2–13.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Ekers, et al., 2; Jill C. Tarter and Christopher F. Chyba, “Is There Life Elsewhere in the Universe?”, Scientific American, December 1999, 118–123.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Richard Burke-Ward, “Possible Existence of Extra-Terrestrial Technology in the Solar System,” JBIS, Vol. 53 (2000), 2–12; Stride, “An Instrument-Based Method,” and Allen Tough, “Small Smart Interstellar Probes,” JBIS, Vol. 51 (1998), 167–174.Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Benford in Bova and Preiss, editors, 172.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Hart and Zuckerman, editors, 44–45; Ridpath, 109; Clark and Clark, 242.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Burke-Ward, “Possible Existence of Extra-Terrestrial Technology in the Solar System.”Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Barrow and Tipler, 591.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Papagiannis in Hart and Zuckerman, editors, 77–84; in Goldsmith, editor, 243–245; Bova and Preiss, editors, 189.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    Gregory L. Matloff and Anthony R. Martin, “Suggested Targets for an Infrared Search for Artificial Kuiper Belt Objects,” JBIS, Vol. 58 (2005), 51–61.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Koerner and LeVay, 212.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Alan E. Rubin, Disturbing the Solar System: Impacts, Close Encounters, and Coming Attractions, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2002, 300.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    “Astronomers Warm Up to the Infrared Universe,” Science, Vol. 304 (18 June 2004), 1740; Rees, Our Final Hour, 172; Freeman J. Dyson, “Looking for Life in Unlikely Places,” in Kondo, et al., editors, 105–119. A planned NASA spacecraft that would orbit Mars was described as the harbinger of a network of communications and space-weather outposts throughout the solar system. “Mars 2009,” Sky and Telescope, May 2004, 27.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Michael C. Malin, “Finding Martian Landers,” Sky and Telescope, July 2005, 42–46; Kenneth Chang, “Mars Lander Still Missing,” The New York Times, 8 November 2005.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    Arthur C. Clarke, By Space Possessed: Essays on the Exploration of Space, London, Gollancz, 1993, 126.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    MacGowan and Ordway, 286.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Project Cyclops, 35.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    MacVey, Interstellar Travel, 112–113.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Stephen Baxter, “Mars the Recording Angel: Traces of Extra-Martian Events in the Polar Layered Terrain,” JBIS, Vol. 58 (2005), 206–210; Leonard David, “Uncovering the Secrets of Mars,” Aerospace America, March 2006, 24–29.Google Scholar
  87. 87.
    Clark and Clark, 239.Google Scholar
  88. 88.
    Clarke, Greetings, 260. Space artist Adolph Schaller, in a book authored by Terence Dickinson, depicted a huge and mysterious alien artifact on Jupiter’s moon Callisto. Extraterrestrials: A Field Guide for Earthlings, Buffalo, NY, Camden House, 1994, 58.Google Scholar
  89. 89.
    Tony Reichhardt, “Going Underground,” Nature, Vol. 435 (19 May 2005), 266–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. 90.
    Paul Wason, “Symbolism and the Inference of Intelligence,” SETI Institute Explorer, First Quarter 2005, 16–17.Google Scholar
  91. 92.
    “Cydonia Defaced,” Sky and Telescope, July 1998, 20; E.C. Krupp, “Facing Mars,” Sky and Telescope, August 2003, 86–88; “A Face-Off on Mars,” Science, Vol. 261 (10 September 1993), 1392. The comment about NASA is from Fitzgerald’s Cosmic Test Tube, p. 19. Shostak and Barnett provided a useful summary of the face on Mars in Cosmic Company, 94–95.Google Scholar
  92. 93.
    Malcolm Smith, “Planetary SETI Craves Scientific Credibility,” Spaceflight, Vol. 46, No. 1 (January 2004), 35–37.Google Scholar
  93. 94.
    Carl Sagan, “Direct Contact Among Galactic Civilizations by Relativistic Interstellar Spacecraft,” Planetary and Space Science, Vol. 11 (1963), 485–490, reprinted in Goldsmith, editor, 205–213; Achenbach, 61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. 95.
    David Michael Jacobs, The UFO Controversy in America, Bloomington, IN, Indiana University Press, 1975, 218.Google Scholar
  95. 96.
    Erich von Daniken, Chariots of the Gods?, New York, G.P. Putnam’s, 1970 (originally published in Germany by Econ-Verlag, 1968); John C. Baird, The Inner Limits of Outer Space, Hanover, NH, University Press of New England, 1987, 20.Google Scholar
  96. 97.
    Baird, 17. One interesting spinoff was the International Journal of Paleovisitology, meant to promote scientific research into this question. The journal was active as of 1990.Google Scholar
  97. 98.
    Shklovskii and Sagan, 455–461; White, 45–48.Google Scholar
  98. 99.
    Stern, in Maruyama and Harkin, editors, 48; Chris Boyce, Extraterrestrial Encounter, Secaucus, NJ, Chartwell Books, 1979, 105.Google Scholar
  99. 100.
    Walter Gratzer, review of Robert Ehrlich’s Eight Preposterous Propositions, Nature, Vol. 426 (18/25 December 2003), 766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. 101.
    Ulmschneider, 166.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. G. Michaud

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations