Planets, stars and galaxies
Space probes are space craft that can visit other planets without the need for astronauts. Some of the missions undertaken by such craft include:
Information about the planets and space can also be obtained using telescopes. These can be based on Earth, or - as with the Hubble Space Telescope - in space.
You may wish to view this BBC News report from 2005 about the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Earth's atmosphere contains about 21 per cent oxygen as a result of photosynthesis by plants. If we found evidence of oxygen in the atmosphere of another planet, it could indicate the presence of life forms. It is possible to detect oxygen and other gases on other planets by studying the light reflected between planets.
You may wish to view this BBC News item from 2006 about how a new type of research radio telescope could pick up TV transmissions from alien civilisations - if they exist.
It is thought possible that alien civilisations, which are capable of transmitting radio signals, may exist. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a programme that uses radio telescopes to look for non-natural signals coming from space. It should be possible to even detect alien TV programmes, if they exist!
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