The Future of Science: What Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks About Aliens, Elon Musk and Traveling to Mars

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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson greets Pepper, a social humanoid robot developed by Aldebaran for SoftBank, on stage during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Neil deGrasse Tyson has no plans to meet advanced life on Earth or other planets anytime soon. The famous astrophysicist told fans this weekend he won't be traveling to Mars via private space exploration and he doubts humans will make contact with complex organisms—that is, alien life— within his lifetime.

Tyson's remarks came up during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit Sunday where he promised to divulge his views on “life, the universe and everything.” Asked by one commentator whether "we will ever make contact with complex organisms within the next 50yrs?", Tyson was not encouraging. 

"I think they (we) might all be too far away from one another in space and possibly time. By complex, I'm presuming you mean life other than single-celled organisms. Life with legs, arms, thoughts, etc. It's all about our capacity to travel interstellar distances. And that's surely not happening in the next 50 years. Not the rate things are going today," he wrote back.

As a consolation for those curious about life beyond our planet, Tyson said we could have new answers on that front soon. "I think in the next century we will know for sure whether there is or was ever life in the solar system—especially on all the fun spots that keeps us wondering from afar—Mars, Europa, Titan, Enceladus," he said.

Someone later asked Tyson whether he would use SpaceX to travel to Mars, prompting Tyson to poke fun at Elon Musk, the founder of tech companies SpaceX and Tesla. "I really like Earth. So any space trip I take, I'm double checking that there's sufficient funds for me to return. Also, I'm not taking that trip until Elon Musk send his Mother and brings her back alive. Then I'm good for it," Tyson replied.