Lisa Kaltenegger

Director of the Carl Sagan Institute

United States

Astronomy Professor @Cornell University, Director of the Carl Sagan Institute @CSInst, Searching for life in the universe #exoplanets, #astrobiology, #astronomy find me @KalteneggerLisa

Invited OpEd in the Financial Times
Is Earth the only living planet?

Lisa Kaltenegger is among the scientists hoping to find evidence of life on worlds that orbit stars beyond our sun

OpEd in CNN
Could alien astronomers have spotted Earth? | CNN

The news that we'll soon have an unclassified report sent to Congress on "unidentified aerial phenomena" - commonly known as "UFOs" - has sparked widespread interest in the search for life in the universe. Might there be civilizations out there? Could there be technologically advanced extraterrestrials? If so, how can we find them?

Time Magazine
Finding a Second Earth

Somewhere out there are other Earths. Lisa Kaltenegger has a way to find them.

Press: Latest Research

"Super-Earth" May Reveal Secrets About the Edge of Habitability

How close can a rocky planet be to a star, and still sustain water and life? A recently discovered exoplanet may be key to solving that mystery. "Super-Earth" LP 890-9c, also referred to as SPECULOOS-2c, is offering valuable information concerning the conditions at the inner boundary of a star's

Aliens watching us? Thousands of star systems can see Earth, new report says.

For decades, humans have researched and wondered about life beyond Earth. Scientists have now created a list of planets where, if they exist, curious aliens could view Earth. The scientists reported that there are 1,715 star-systems that could have spotted Earth since about 5,000 years ago.

Could alien astronomers have spotted Earth? | CNN

The news that we'll soon have an unclassified report sent to Congress on "unidentified aerial phenomena" -- commonly known as "UFOs" -- has sparked widespread interest in the search for life in the universe. Might there be civilizations out there? Could there be technologically advanced extraterrestrials? If so, how can we find them?

29 Intelligent Alien Civilizations May Have Already Spotted Us, Say Scientists

Are we being watched right now by alien civilisations using similar technology to ours? According to a new paper published today in Nature today, 29 potentially habitable worlds have a "cosmic front seat" to watch us and could have both detected Earth as a life-supporting planet and received human-made radio waves from us.

Fox News
Can ET see us? Study finds many stars with prime Earth view

Feeling like you are being watched? It could be from a lot farther away than you think. Astronomers took a technique used to look for life on other planets and flipped it around - so instead of looking to see what's out there, they tried to see what places could see us.

This Is How Aliens Might Search for Human Life

In the search for extraterrestrial life, we're usually the ones doing the snooping. But Lisa Kaltenegger, an astronomer at Cornell University, wanted to know who out there might be watching us. "For whom would we be the aliens?" she asks.

Smithsonian Magazine
If Aliens Exist in These 1,700 Solar Systems, They Can Probably See Earth

Astronomers on Earth can discover far away planets by watching the light of distant stars and waiting to see if that light ever wavers as an orbiting alien world passes by. But as Nadia Drake reports for National Geographic , a new study turns a hypothetical extraterrestrial telescope back on Earth.

Scientific American
Aliens Might Already Be Watching Us

On June 25 the Pentagon and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released their much hyped report on unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP. Space alien enthusiasts and skeptics alike awaited it with bated breath. And while the report did not rule out an extraterrestrial origin for much of the documented UAP, it was short on details or bombshells.

Earth may have already been spotted by 1,715 alien solar systems

Astronomers on Earth can look for alien worlds by watching the transit of planets orbiting distant stars, but scientists have now identified 2,034 nearby star systems that could peer right back at us. Of these, 1,715 could have spotted Earth since human civilisation blossomed about 5,000 years ago, and 319 more will see us over the next 5,000 years.

the Guardian
Scientists identify 29 planets where aliens could observe Earth

For centuries, Earthlings have gazed at the heavens and wondered about life among the stars. But as humans hunted for little green men, the extraterrestrials might have been watching us back. In new research, astronomers have drawn up a shortlist of nearby star systems where any inquisitive inhabitants on orbiting planets would be well placed to spot life on Earth.


Some exoplanets could have Earth in sight, study says

While the search for exoplanets has revealed more than 4,000 planets beyond our solar system, researchers question what may be looking back. Astronomers compiled a list of stars that could host exoplanets positioned to see Earth and evidence of life.

The Atlantic
Astronomers Are Keeping a Close Watch on the Next Star Over

They have noticed something intriguing coming from the direction of Proxima Centauri. Last month, as 2020 drew to a close and we on Earth completed one of our strangest orbits around the sun, news broke that astronomers had picked up a mysterious signal from another star.

Could Life Survive the Death of a Star?

The next generation of telescopes could soon allow astronomers to examine worlds orbiting dead stars for signs of life. Planets orbiting white dwarfs should be dead - at least one star in their system ran out of fuel and collapsed before expanding back outward, swallowing any nearby worlds.

Fox News
Glowing aliens could turn harsh UV radiation into beautiful radiance

Life on alien planets may produce a protective glow to buffer the dangerous flares of nearby stars. Stars constantly douse their planets with harsh ultraviolet radiation flares, which could harm any life on a planet's surface. However, some forms of life may have developed a defense against these powerful bursts: a protective glow known as biofluorescence.

The Atlantic
A Glowing Clue in the Search for Alien Life

Astronomers say potential life on planets around flaring stars might find a creative way to survive. It takes more than four years for its light to reach us, but Proxima Centauri is one of our closest neighbors. The star orbits in the constellation Centaurus, visible in the Southern Hemisphere, but is itself too faint to see with the naked eye.

New Planetary Color Models Will Decode Signs Of Extrasolar Life

Detecting signs of life at a distance is a complicated business. But two Cornell University astronomers have advanced the cause with new computer models designed to help tease out signs of life from an extrasolar planet's given color and surface reflectivity.

Fox News
Astronomers created a 'cosmic cheat sheet' to help look for aliens

Despite our best efforts, humanity has yet to find the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. So, we've decided to cheat. Astronomers at Cornell University have created what they call a "cosmic cheat sheet," utilizing nature's color palette from the early days of the planet in an effort to better find alien planets that could potentially host life.

CBS News
Potentially habitable Earth-like planet discovered 31 light years away

CBS News What was once considered pure fantasy in movies like "Avatar," is now looking a little more plausible. Earlier this week, NASA announced the discovery of a possible Earth-like planet, located just 31 light years away - a hop, skip and a jump in cosmic terms - that may be able to support life.

NBC News
Potentially habitable 'super-Earth' discovered just 31 light-years away

Astronomers announced Wednesday that they had discovered the nearest potentially habitable planet outside our solar system. The newfound exoplanet - a so-called super-Earth named GJ 357 d - lies 31 light-years away from our solar system. It's about six times more massive than our planet and orbits in its host star's habitable zone, where water could exist in liquid form on the surface.

Washington Post
This heavy metal mini planet survived the death of its star

This is what will happen when our sun dies: First, the hydrogen-powered nuclear reactor in its center will run out of fuel. The sun will expand into a red giant, swelling to 100 times its size and swallowing Mercury, Venus and perhaps even our own planet, along with all life as we know it.

A New List of Stars Shows Us Where to Look for Earth-Like Planets

Astronomers have created a catalog of 1,822 nearby stars around which the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission might spot planets receiving Earth-like levels of starlight. This is a crucial step in humanity's search for an Earth-like, potentially habitable exoplanet.

Fox News
Earth's history could be used to spot plant life on alien worlds

Earth's history could be useful to help spot planets where vegetation may exist, potentially showing signs of life, new research says. The new study, published by researchers from Cornell University, details something they call a "template for vegetation fingerprints" to figure out the age of potentially habitable exoplanets.

The New Yorker
What Are the Colors of Alien Life?

Just before it became the first man-made vessel to leave the solar system, in 1990, Voyager 1 took a portrait of Earth, some four billion miles away. Our pinprick of a planet occupied a mere twelve per cent of one pixel, but its atmosphere, rich in water, oxygen, and ozone, reflected and scattered the glow of the sun in an unmistakable way; the astronomer Carl Sagan dubbed Earth the "pale blue dot."

National Geographic
Want to Find Alien Life? Look at Older, Hotter Earths.

If alien astronomers are out there searching for signs of life on Earth, they might just find it in the telltale pattern of light reflected by our plants, from redwood forests to desert cacti to grass-covered plains. That reflected fingerprint has been visible since vegetation first began carpeting our rocky terrestrial landscape about half a billion years ago.

This Solar System Catalog Could Be Key to Finding an Earth-Like Exoplanet

By searching for the telltale, periodic dimming of light from distant stars, astronomers can spot orbiting exoplanets tens to hundreds of light-years away. But how do they know what these bodies look like? Perhaps they first try to imagine how the planets in our own Solar System might appear to a faraway alien world.

NBC News
How humans might outlive Earth, the sun...and even the universe

In this dark future, we might build enormous space power plants around black holes, lowering masses toward them to harvest their gravitational pull "like the weights pulling down in a grandfather's clock," says Princeton physicist J. Richard Gott.

Washington Post
Why dying stars may be a good place to look for alien life

When scientists train their telescopes on the sky in search of Earth-like planets, they tend to look around younger, sun-like stars. The logic seems sound: So far, our solar system is the only one where life has ever been found. If living things exist elsewhere, it seems logical they'd be found under conditions not too different from our own.

VIDEOS: Interviews, IMAX, Radio

Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda
Lisa Kaltenegger: Looking for Life on Other Earths

Is there life in the universe beyond planet Earth? It's the question everyone, including Alan Alda, wants to understand. In this episode, Alan asks Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger, the head of the world-renown Carl Sagan Institute, about life in the cosmos. What Dr. Kaltenegger has to say is surprising and inspiring. Before you stare up at the sky tonight, be sure to hear what Dr. Kaltenegger has to say about which of the billions of planets might be more like ours than we ever thought possible.

World Science Festival
Who Is Out There: Why Alien ‘Life’ May Be Weirder Than We Imagine

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott has yet to meet an alien, but that doesn’t mean she’s never pondered their existence. Alien life has been a mainstay and fascination of science fiction, but who–or what–might actually be out there: biological life, artificial intelligence, or some combination of both? It took only 200,000 years—a blip on the cosmic timeline—for the first sparks of intelligent life to invent artificial intelligence here on Earth. And since space is big, and life is short—at least...

Adler Planetarium
Are We Alone in the Universe? Kavli Fulldome Lecture Series

Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered over the past two decades. In this lecture, Dr. Kaltenegger discussed these discoveries and explored how we can determine which of these exoplanets might be suitable for life. She also discussed techniques and missions that could detect life itself on these worlds, finally answered the question,”Are we alone in the Universe?”

The Atlantic
The Search for a Second Earth

Astronomers have already found thousands of planets that orbit their own stars. Some are at a distance where it's neither too hot nor too cold for life to exist. With new, bigger telescopes being built, astronomers will be able to analyze the chemical composition of these planets' atmospheres to determine whether Earth is the only planet of its kind in the universe.

MacGillivray Freeman
The Search for Life in Space - Official IMAX Trailer

Journey from the depths of the Pacific Ocean into the far reaches of space on a quest to find something that changes everything...signs of life, somewhere else in the universe. With cutting-edge imagery from the world's most powerful telescopes, The Search for Life in Space, a film for IMAX® and giant screen theatres, narrated by Malcolm McDowell takes audiences from the surface of Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, to the extreme lava fields of Hawaii and thermal vents deep...

Cornell Cast
Scientists use color catalog of biosignatures to search for extraterrestrial life

For the first time in human history, we have the technology to search for life and, if it’s there, to find it. Lisa Kaltenegger, professor of astronomy and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, shares what inspires her scientific curiosity, and how Cornell’s scientists work together to search for alien life in a new—and colorful—way. Kaltenegger's research focuses on the characterization of habitable worlds.

TED Youth: What a planet’s fingerprint can tell us | Lisa Kaltenegger

Out of the countless planets that exist, every fifth planet orbiting stars similar to our sun has the potential to host life. Astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger shows us how we can use the ‘fingerprint’ of a planet -- the light patterns created by its gravitational pull -- to understand the type of atmosphere that exists on it. Perhaps finding life on another planet is closer than we think? TEDArchive presents previously unpublished talks from TED conferences. Enjoy this unedited talk by Lisa...

Motion Picture Association
Director David Twohy on how he Crafted the Riddick Trilogy's Exoplanets | The Credits

The basic premise behind each installment of writer and director David Twohy's sci-fi film trilogy-Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick-is pretty straightforward. Riddick, played by Vin Diesel, finds himself on a hostile alien planet inhabited by creatures that want to kill him. To add flare to what otherwise could become a tired storyline, ...