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All about aliens: 3 online courses on the search for extraterrestrial life

aliens
Curious about aliens? Check out these online courses. Source: Francesco Ungaro/Pexels

In the past three decades, mankind has gone from discovering planets in our own solar system to identifying thousands of stars in other galaxies. At the same time, the search for aliens — which has received international attention since Roswell — is often dismissed or ridiculed. In “A Brief History of Time,”  Stephen Hawking called it “foolhardy” for mankind to alert extraterrestrial intelligence to our existence — yet, we can’t shake the curiosity built through years of popular culture.

From mysterious UFO sightings to the bizarre claim that Donald Trump is aware of a “galactic federation” agreement between aliens and the US government, our fascination with aliens is often more exciting than enlightening. If you want to get in on the search, these online courses about aliens will provide the foundation for you to approach the extraterrestrial debate with facts and logic.

aliens

Mankind has gone from discovering planets in our own solar system to identifying thousands of stars in other galaxies — yet there are not many answers about alien life. Source: Vinícius Caricatte/Pexels

An introduction to exoplanets

In the same way that the Earth orbits the sun, exoplanets orbit a star outside of our Solar System. The search for intelligent alien life is focused on these planets, as there is much to discover about them. In this Open University course, you will study exoplanets from the dawn of their era, explore the contents of the Milky Way, and channel all that knowledge towards the big question: Where do we go from here?

Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

This fully-online course from The University of Edinburgh invites you to learn about the origin and evolution of life beyond Earth. Over five weeks, you will learn about the origins of life on earth, explore the possibility of other habitable environments and exoplanets in our solar system, and consider extraterrestrial intelligence. You may complete the course at your own pace, but expect to dedicate around 11 hours to it. It is taught in English but comes with subtitles in numerous languages including Arabic, French, Russian, Vietnamese, and Turkish. It is also available via Class Central.

Super-Earths and Life

How did life begin on Earth? How do we discover planets around other stars? What makes a planet favourable for life? These are burning questions any curious learner would have, and they will all be answered in this course through a combination of astronomy and biology. You will learn about alien life, how we search for it, and what this teaches us about our place in the universe. Offered by Harvard and available via edX, this seven-week course will require at least five hours of your time every week.