Cornell University's Institute for Pale Blue Dots has now been renamed the "Carl Sagan Institute: Pale Blue Dots and Beyond" in honor of the famous astrophysicist and astronomer Carl Sagan.

On Saturday, May 9, the university announced the new name of the institute during an inaugural event. The institute was founded in 2014 and was initially called the Institute for Pale Blue Dots. The institute brings together Earth scientists, astrophysicists, geologists, biologists and engineers to find evidence of alien life beyond Earth.

Sagan taught at the institution for more than three decades. He died due to a degenerative bone marrow disease in 1996.

During the inaugural event, Ann Druyan, Sagan's wife and collaborator, revealed that she suggested the renaming of the institute to Lisa Kaltenegger, its director.

"Honoring Carl by empowering interdisciplinary scientists to search for the answers to his most passionate scientific questioning, seeking to share that understanding with the public, and finding in that knowledge applications to life-threatening dangers here on Earth — that's a multi-leveled and highly accurate reflection of who Carl was," says Druyan.

Are we alone in the entire universe? This question has attracted a lot of debate among scientists. However, a majority of scientists believe that alien life may or may have existed somewhere beyond planet Earth.

A recent report revealed that Saturn's moon Enceladus may be home for alien life. The Curiosity rover, exploring the Martian surface, also found presence of nitrates on Mars, which is a key component for supporting live forms on Earth. While scientists have found evidence of elements that can support alien life, there is no strong evidence to confirm any alien life outside of Earth.

Unidentified flying object, or UFO, sightings have been reported from various parts of the world. However, Sagan believed that some government reports were meant to mislead citizens. While Sagan believed that alien life might be present in the universe, he also cautioned against concluding on UFOs. Sagan believed that there was no strong evidence to confirm if Earth has ever been visited by aliens.

The renaming of the institute in honor of Carl Sagan will continue to find answers about the present of life in the cosmos.

Photo: Johann Edwin Heupel | Flickr

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