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The search for planets outside of our solar system, and what it means for finding extraterrestrial life.

More than 4,000 planets have been discovered circling nearby stars and more are being identified each day.  How are these “other worlds” discovered?  What are their characteristics?  How many are Earth-like?  This talk will focus on the successes of NASA’s Kepler mission - the workhorse for finding exoplanets - but will also cover other means for discovering the exoplanets.  Now that we know that other worlds are ubiquitous, what are the prospects that extraterrestrial life exists?  The presentation also will cover active research efforts for understanding this question, including a summary of NASA’s astrobiology program as well as the extensive efforts, such as SETI, intended to identify signs of life in the cosmos.

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