The current thinking, mostly due to budget limitation is to only send space probes to certain targets. Like Jupiter, Venus, Mars and so on. The main reason for this is limited budget and the thinking to only explore what we currently see. That needs to change. In my view it needs to change because while we are just targeting special object in space we might be missing objects that are just outside our view.
What the human race needs to send out in space are general purpose space probes that are able to due the most basic of studies and measurements and that are able to take the necessary images if something of interest is found. What also needs to be done is to figure out a way to make space probes faster and to allow them to go longer on less fuel. This needs to happen and the science of exploring space has to change and move forward from its current status. The human race needs to start exploring space for real and reach to objects that are outside our own solar system so that we know what is there before we send humans out to explore deep space.
According to recent news on BBC News there could be more planets out in the galaxy and every galaxy out there. This are the results from new computer model into this matter. This however does not say anything about if any of this planets has civilization out there. But that is always an possibility. What this actually means in reality is hard to know for sure. But one thing is clear. There is more life in the universe then we can imagine.
If people want to check more on this subject. They can read the whole deal in BBC News article.
More planets could harbour life (BBC News)
On Wikipedia there is an interesting image that shows the universe in scale to the Earth and our solar system. This picture clearly shows how small the Earth and the human race really is. Petty things like religion and skin color are utterly meaningless when it comes down to it. I just wish more humans would release that. Since then we would at least have peace among humans for once.
The scale of the universe. Click on the image for full size. The image is from Wikipedia. Image is made by Andrew Z. Colvin under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
This image also shows that human race needs to increase the research into deep space exploring. Just exploring the local solar system for new information is simply not enough today. If nothing else. We need to know what is out there. Before it finds us. Since I am in no doubt that what is out there in the universe is both going to be good and evil.
A recent study that was done by Wesley Traub. But he estimates that there are about 34% with the error margin of +-14% of sun like stars with Earth like planets in there habitable zone. But this study has the potential for higher error rates, as it is only based on data from 136 days. But he also had to base his study on data from short period planets that are already known. But from what other media is reporting, it seems however that this study is all good.
But the hypothesis in this study means that there might be a lot of life out in the universe. But this does not equal that all of it is like humans and have developed a civilization. But all considered, I would say that chances of that are not too bad either.
New study: 1/3 of Sun-like stars might have terrestrial planets in their habitable zones (Bad Astronomy)