John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Recent Publication by Alum Gordon Gartrelle

Gordon Gartrelle , SpSt M.S. 2011,  has been published recently:

Gartrelle, G. (2015). Unknown caller: can we effectively manage the announcement of discovery of extraterrestrial life? International Journal of Astrobiology. doi: 10.1017/S1473550415000075.


Abstract: The definitive discovery of another form of life from beyond Earth will answer one of our most

fundamental questions: Are we alone in the Universe? This announcement will be the most significant in

history. It will have impact on every facet of our lives and affect everyone on Earth. Ensuring the

announcement is handled properly represents an opportunity to unify government, industrial, and scientific

resources to work together on a global scale issue. The purpose of the present paper is to understand whether

we have the overall strategy, management structures and process disciplines in place on a global scale to

handle an announcement of this magnitude. The research methodology included review and analysis of peer reviewed

work on the topic, publications from appropriate scientific and policy organizations, and public

statements from several acknowledged experts in the field of astrobiology and extraterrestrial

communications. The 1996 case of the announcement of possible life from Martian meteorite ALH84001

was also analysed. The findings of the paper are multiple deficiencies exist in the ability to manage this

problem globally in an integrated fashion across borders, institutional boundaries, and through the media.

High-level recommendations are offered to address major identified gaps.


This paper developed from work done in SPST 541 in Fall 14.  Gordon is currently in the Aerospace Science Ph.D. program.


James Casler, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Professor
Department of Space Studies
University of North Dakota