Essential Pittsburgh
3:53 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Area 51 Questions Persist

A NASA satellite image of Area 51 in Nevada circa 2000
A NASA satellite image of Area 51 in Nevada circa 2000
Credit NASA Landsat / Wikipedia

Late last month, the CIA released a classified report on the U2 spy plane. The report confirmed what many people have believed for decades. A secret military facility known as Area 51 does indeed exist.

Robert Marshall, program development coordinator of the Buhl Planetarium and Observatory says Area 51 is essentially a Department of Defense studio, where prototypes are tested.

When it comes to mysterious sightings, Marshall says, with nighttime test flights in the Nevada desert, UFO is an apt term. “Anytime you see something flying in the sky and don’t know what it is, you have an Unidentified Flying Object, a UFO.”

Marshall says the possibility of the U.S. government covering up the existence of alien life on earth would be “a huge secret to keep.”

But when it comes to the mathematical possibility of life in the Milky Way, Marshall says over a thousand earth-like planets have so far been confirmed by scientists.

“Earth was such an easy experiment, where you had 4 and a half billion years ago, lightning in the sky, forming amino acids with the actual elements here on earth, it all might be very common. And that’s something that is exciting. What is probably not so common, are creatures like you and me.”