The people have asked and the Obama Administration has answered: There's no ET.
The White House posted an official response to a "We The People" petition requesting the government "formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race," and a related demand to "immediately disclose the government's knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings." The two petitions garnered 17,465 electronic signatures.
"The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race," writes Phil Larson, with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
"In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye," Larson said.
That's not to say the government isn't looking, he added, citing radio searches for alien civilizations under way by the privately funded SETI Institute.
Larson also pointed to NASA's Kepler space telescope, which is hunting for Earth-like planets in other star systems, and the upcoming launch of a new Mars rover designed to assess if Earth's neighbor is or was ever suited for life.
"Many scientists and mathematicians have looked with a statistical mindset at the question of whether life likely exists beyond Earth and have come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life," Larson wrote.
"Many have also noted, however, that the odds of us making contact with any of them-especially any intelligent ones-are extremely small, given the distances involved," Larson said. "But that's all statistics and speculation. The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth."
Image: Still looking... (SETI/iStockPhoto/edit by Ian O'Neill, Discovery News)