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Exoplanet Hunters Rethink Search for Alien Life

Steve Desch, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University in Tempe, and other planet hunters met from November 13-17 in Laramie, Wyoming, to plot better ways to scout for life beyond Earth. Many are starting to argue that the standard definition of habitability — having liquid water on a planet’s surface — is not the factor that should guide exoplanet exploration. Instead, the scientists say, the field should focus on the chances of detecting alien life, should it exist. “Planets can be habitable and not have life with any impact,” Desch told researchers at the meeting.

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