-- Humans could make contact with alien life within 12 years, with the aid of the world's largest radio telescope, a leading UFO expert has claimed.
One of the key questions, whether extra-terrestrial life exists, could be answered by 2024 with the development of a supersized 1.3 billion pounds radio telescope, the Daily Express reported.
The development of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope will unleash "new and exciting possibilities", according to former UK ministry of defence UFO Project leader, Nick Pope.
"I will be controversial and give you an exact year of when I believe first confirmation of contact will be made - and that is 2024, the year in which if everything goes according to plan the Square Kilometre Array will be fully operational," Pope, who studied UFO sightings at the MoD for 21 years, said.
The SKA, to be started in 2016, is set to be the world's largest radio telescope and will answer some of the fundamental unanswered questions of our universe.
Made up of thousands of radio wave receptors covering 4,921 square km of the Earth's surface in the Australian outback, scientists have claimed it will provide alternative views of the universe than those seen with optical telescopes.
Scientists leading its development have suggested the SKA will be 50 times more sensitive, and will survey the sky 10,000 times faster, than any other telescope.
"It will give astronomers insight into the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies after the Big Bang, the role of cosmic magnetism, the nature of gravity and possibly even life beyond," a spokesman for the SKA said.
"If there is a civilisation within 100 lightyears this telescope could find it. We are now beginning to have the technology whether it's the SKA or maybe other telescopes that are being developed that will allow these possibilities. We are searching all the time for a shadow earth," Pope added.
Recent research suggested that nearly 10 per cent of the population has seen a UFO, equally more than 6 million people just in the UK.
"When I was investigating UFOs, I investigated 2-300 reports each year. 10 per cent is an absolutely astonishing figure," Pope added.
The UFO expert also speculated as to how the extra-terrestrial life could make contact.
"The old fashioned idea was that there would be this landing on the White House lawn. First contact might just happen via email, but more likely it will be through radio signals," Pope said.