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NASA may not be planning to put a human on Mars until the 2030s, but the agency’s top scientist said colonizing the planet is a key part of its agenda – as well as its search for extraterrestrial life.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, NASA’s chief scientist Dr. Ellen Stofan emphasized that the quest to find alien life is focused primarily on our own solar system, where potential targets include Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Saturn’s moon Titan. In order to most effectively survey Mars for signs of life, though, Stofan said putting humans on the ground, and establishing a presence there, is a big priority.

In response to a question about whether or not NASA plans to bring back astronauts that reach the Red Planet, Stofan said, “We would definitely plan on bringing them back. We like to talk about pioneering Mars rather than just exploring Mars, because once we get to Mars we will set up some sort of permanent presence."

When?  A hundred years from now? To read more, click here.