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The recent and scientifically controversial announcement of arsenic-eating microbes in the eastern California desert has ratcheted up the expectation of finding life among the stars.

SLIDE SHOW: Top 10 Places to Find Alien Life

Add this to the building anticipation of the NASA Kepler mission’s promise to find “Earth-sized” planets in its survey of over 100,000 stars near the Summer Triangle.

Another Kepler data release is scheduled for February and once again there will probably be a flurry of blogs speculating if the mission has found the interstellar Holy Grail -- an Earth-sized planet in the balmy habitable zone about a sunlike star.

A term that's often kicked around is finding an Earth-analog. But what does that really mean? Does it imply something is living there? If so, the answer is very likely to be decades away, and full of uncertainty.

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