In a galaxy, far, far away, there is a mathematical chance that alien life exists -- but the White House says it has no evidence that extraterrestrials have ever tried to contact humans.
In a blow to conspiracy theorists everywhere, a senior Barack Obama administration official also says there is also no credible information to suggest evidence of alien life is being kept from the public.
The unusual comment was contained in a response to several petitions lodged on a White House website by a senior space policy and communications official Phil Larson.
"The US government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race," Larson wrote.
"In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye."
Larson however said that the possibility of extraterrestrial life is discussed and explored, including several NASA projects.
Despite denying hopes for proof of alien life, Larson did not rule out the idea that it could exist.
"Many scientists and mathematicians have ... come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life."
"Many have also noted, however, that the odds of us making contact with any of them -- especially any intelligent ones -- are extremely small, given the distances involved.
"But that's all statistics and speculation. The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth."
The statement was issued in response to two petitions, which garnered a collective 17,000 signatures, calling on the government to disclose knowledge or extraterrestrial beings and contact with them.
The White House has started a new initiative called "We the People" by allowing people to submit petitions to their government, and pledged to respond to some that get a significant following.
One of the petitions was lodged by the Paradigm Research Group, and called on President Obama to "formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race and immediately release into the public domain all files from all agencies and military services relevant to this phenomenon."
It claimed that hundreds of military and government agencies had testified to the existence of an extraterrestrial presence, and that polls showed many Americans did not believe the government was telling the truth on the issue.
The mission of the Paradigm Research Group works to expose what it says is a "truth embargo" by the government on extraterrestrial life.
(c) 2011 AFP
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