London - The prospect of alien life has both fascinated and terrified many, from scientists to amateur stargazers, for decades.

Now the Queen’s astronomer says evidence of life not only beyond earth, but beyond our solar system could be discovered within a 40 years.

Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, on Thursday night said that he believes astrophysicists could be able to view images of distant planets outside of our solar system as soon as 2025 – and potentially discover whether there is some form of life on them.

Asked what scientific changes could be expected in the next 40 years, Lord Rees said that understanding more about the “origin of life, the place where it exists, and whether aliens exist, is going to be crucial”.

Speaking at a debate on the meaning of life for the launch of Professor Stephen Hawking’s new show Grand Design, he said: ‘Within 10 or 20 years we will be able to image other planets like the earth, orbiting other stars.

“That will be a really exciting subject to see if there is evidence for [extra-terrestrial] life or not.” - Daily Mail