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Greatest Mysteries: Does Alien Life Exist?
By Ker Than
posted: 06 August 2007
06:15 am ET
Editor's Note: We asked several scientists from various fields what they thought were the greatest mysteries today, and then we added a few that were on our minds, too. This article is one of 15 in LiveScience's "Greatest Mysteries" series running each weekday.
Life can be found in almost every nook and cranny of our planet Earth. Leaping, swimming, flying, sprinting, slithering, crawling or rooted firmly in place, organisms appear, die, and are replaced by new generations and new species.
Whether a similar bounty of life exists elsewhere in the universe is one of the oldest and most tantalizing questions of science. Considering the wide breadth of the universe and the countless stars it contains, the odds would seem in favor of the answer being "yes."
"We are here, made of stardust. Therefore, it is at least possible that there are others," said Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI Research in California.
The Phoenix Mars Lander won't be looking for evidence of life on Mars but rather traces of organic compounds in the baked and moistened samples. Such compounds would be a possible indicator of conditions favorable for life, either now or once upon a time.