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Curious about whether there is life beyond Earth? The answer should come within 20 years, astronomers told members of a Congressional science committee on Wednesday.

A three-way race is under way to learn if life exists elsewhere in the solar system or beyond, Seth Shostak, senior astronomer with the California-based SETI Institute, said during a hearing before the House Science and Technology Committee.

So far, most efforts -- and funding -- to find extraterrestrial life have focused on Mars and potential life-bearing moons in the outer solar system.

“At least a half-dozen other worlds (besides Earth) that might have life are in our solar system. The chances of finding it, I think, are good, and if that happens, it’ll happen in the next 20 years, depending on the financing,” Shostak said.

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