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Watch out for the GIGANTIC ALIEN JELLYFISH, warns space boffin

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A British satellite expert reckons aliens will be enormous bewildering monsters ideal for depicting on telly science shows, the very sort of programme the government adviser is happy to front.

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock said extraterrestrials could be football-field-size jellyfish with orange stomaches that float in the skies of Titan while supported by small onion-shaped gas balls under their flaps. And they would communicate with small pulses of light, the Independent quoted her as saying.

The scientist made her remarks in an interview on the Eden Channel, which is repeating her BBC documentary Do We Really Need the Moon? on Friday for its Science Month series.

"My vision of aliens is an inhuman, silicon-based life form that looks much more like a jellyfish than sci-fi’s little green men,” she added.

Going into further detail, she said the orange underbelly could act as camouflage allowing them to evade would-be predators - although presumably only in predominantly orange environments. The aliens would be kept afloat by buoyancy bags that dangle from their body, taking in or letting out gas in order to gain or lose altitude, another handy feature.

Her idea was inspired by the prevalence of silicon in the universe, and recent probings into life at the bottom of the ocean by James Cameron among others. In an an article accompanying the programme, she writes:

Our imaginations are naturally constrained by what we see around us, and the conventional wisdom has been that life needs water and is carbon-based, but some researchers are doing exciting work, playing with ideas such as silicon-based life forms. Silicon is just below carbon in the periodic table, has some chemical similarities and is widely available in the universe. So perhaps we could imagine similar instructions to DNA but with silicon. Maybe life doesn’t have to resemble anything like DNA at all.

Aderin-Pocock suggested that it is unlikely we'll get to see these highly coloured rubbery marvels in our lifetime, and admits that life in the universe is likely to be scattered and far distant. She estimates there will be as few as four alien civilisations sharing the universe at a time simultaneous to the human race.

As well as working for European space biz Astrium, she also advises the UK Ministry of Defence, although on satellite technology rather than aliens. ®

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