What Happens on Day 2: Law, Policy and the Discovery of Alien Life

Christopher J. Newman, BA (Hons), PhD is Professor of Space Law and Policy at Northumbria University at Newcastle in the United Kingdom. He is active in the teaching and research of space law and has published extensively on the legal and ethical underpinnings of space governance. Christopher is regularly invited to lectures in universities and at specialist conferences on space law and policy across the UK and internationally. He is Visiting Professor of Space Law at the Open University and works with their groundbreaking Astrobiology OU project.

Talk: What Happens on Day 2: Law, Policy and the Discovery of Alien Life

The discovery of alien life will have a profound impact upon the cultural and social fabric of the human race. Such an event will undoubtedly be met by a mixture of reactions; from outright disbelief and scepticism through to a fundamental and metaphysical re-evaluation of humanity’s place in the universe. If alien life is discovered, there will not only be scientific and philosophical questions to be answered; any such discovery will undoubtedly require a rapid and coordinate response from governments, organisations and people on both a national and international level. The day that humans establish the existence of alien life will be one of immense significance, but the question that this paper will ask is, “what happens on day 2?”

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