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Extraterrestrial life

The official U.S. government position on extraterrestrial life, and the three major efforts in the search for it: 1. Looking for extrasolar planets (Image: Kepler spacecraft) 2. Listening for signals (Image: Allen array) 3. Robotic exploration of the Solar System (Image: Curiosity rover) Extraterrestrial life (from the Latin words: extra and terrestris ) is defined as life that does not originate from Earth. It is often also referred to as alien life, or simply aliens (or space aliens, to differentiate from other definitions of alien or aliens). These hypothetical forms of life range from simple bacteria-like organisms to beings far more complex than humans. The possibility that viruses might also exist extraterrestrially has been proposed.The development and testing of hypotheses on extraterrestrial life is known as exobiology or astrobiology; the term astrobiology, however, includes the study of life on Earth viewed in its astronomical context. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health reported studies that life in the universe may have begun "9.7±2.5 billion years ago", billions of years before the Earth was formed, based on extrapolating the "genetic complexity of organisms" to earlier times. Many scientists consider extraterrestrial life to be plausible, but there is no direct evidence of its existence. Since the mid-20th century, there has been an ongoing search for signs of extraterrestrial life, from radios used to detect possible extraterrestrial signals, to telescopes used to search for potentially habitable extrasolar planets. It has also played a major role in works of science fiction. Cite error: There are tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).
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