Life on Other Worlds

  • Peoples & Creatures of the Moon

    Humans have long imagined the kinds of creatures or peoples that might live on Earth's moon. This section briefly describes ideas about lunar life in the 17th, 19th the 20th centuries through a series of items from the Library of Congress' collections. By examining ideas about life on the moon, insights emerge about the interplay between imagination and rigorous thought in our developing understanding ...

  • Seeing and Interpreting Martian Oceans and Canals

    Did you know that in the 19th century it was widely believed that the other planets in our solar system were likely inhabited? At the same time, the quality of telescopes was rapidly increasing, making it possible for astronomers to see and sketch the incredible details of the geography of Mars. As we'll see the initial excitement fades as science begins to cast doubt ...

  • Envisioning Martian Civilizations

    In the trailer from the 1951 film Flight to Mars, visitors from Earth to the red planet find a dying, but technologically advanced, civilization that has been listening in on radio communications from Earth. Many of the same ideas are evident in the 1910 short film Pa's Trip to Mars and in Flash Gordon's 1936 visit to the red planet. Where did such ideas ...

  • Messages to and from Outer Space

    As the 20th century began, interest in the potential of life on Mars and the possible civilizations there lead to a search for signals. Could we communicate with another planet? How might we look for signals and messages from other worlds?

  • UFOs and Aliens Among Us

    In the 1940s and 50s reports of "flying saucers" became an American cultural phenomena. Sightings of strange objects in the sky became the raw materials for Hollywood to present visions of potential threats. Posters for films, like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers from 1956 illustrate these fears. Connected to ongoing ideas about life on the Moon, the canals on Mars, and ideas about Martian ...