What would it be like to discover intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe? Chances are, we've all thought about it at one time or another. And for generations, the greatest scientific minds in the world have speculated about the odds of finding it, and what forms it might take.

While we have barely scratched the surface, we are at a pivotal time in our search for life elsewhere in the Universe. This is largely due to the way modern telescopes have allowed us to discover thousands of extrasolar planets (or just exoplanets).

As the number of confirmed exoplanets has grown, the focus has been slowly shifting from discovery to characterization. In other words, we've found many distant worlds, now we're attempting to determine which of them might be able to actually support life.

In the coming years, we stand to many more planets and learn a great deal more about the ones we already know about. But first, a few things need to be clarified, not the least of which is terminology.

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