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Scientists haven't found E.T. just yet, but they may be pinning down the best places and ways to look for alien life during future space missions, NASA researchers said Wednesday. Experts on the search for extraterrestrial life spoke to reporters from the Astrobiology Science Conference near Houston to celebrate 50 years of astrobiology research.
Scientists there said they are still eager to find life elsewhere in the universe despite the firestorm this week kicked off by famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who suggested that perhaps humans shouldn't be so eager to find aliens since there's a chance they would want to colonize Earth or strip it for resources.
"Astrobiology and the search for life is really central to what we should be doing next in the exploration of the solar system," Squyres said
He mentioned a host of possible robotic missions, including visits to Mercury, Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and even distant outer solar system flybys. In particular, the Saturnian moons Titan — with its lakes of methane and ethane — and Enceladus, with its plumes of water vapor, seem like possibly habitable sites.