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It's been a busy time in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, an endeavor nicknamed SETI that began 50 years ago with a scan for alien radio waves from Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani.

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Telescope is returning a rich harvest of potential targets. So far, scientists have found 1,253 stars that likely have planets in tow, including 55 with worlds that appear to be in life-friendly zones.

"It's a new game. We can start pointing our telescopes where we know there are planets, rather than pointing at stars where we thought there might be habitable planets. It's exciting," Jill Tarter, director of SETI research for the California-based SETI Institute, told Discovery News.

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Category: Science