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Searching for signs of alien life should be part of every future NASA mission, researchers wrote in a new report.

Authored by 17 scientists, the congressionally mandated report was unveiled on Oct. 10 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). It emphasized the importance of including astrobiology — the study of how life originated on Earth and how it might evolve elsewhere in the universe — in every phase of all NASA missions destined for space, "from inception and conceptualization, to planning, to development, and to operations."

Why now? In recent years, astrophysicists have detected thousands of exoplanets, and biologists are uncovering new insights into the complexity and diversity of life on Earth, the authors said in a briefing. These discoveries bolster the chance that life could exist on other worlds, and therefore all space exploration missions should incorporate technology to find traces of alien organisms, according to the report. [9 Strange, Scientific Excuses for Why Humans Haven't Found Aliens Yet]

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