Humanity's interest in whether or not we are alone in the universe spans generations, from Giordano Bruno's 16th century musings on other worlds and Giovanni Schiaparelli reporting seeing ‘canali’ in 1877 on the surface of Mars (which were thought to have been created by intelligent life) to alien invasions portrayed in today's movies. However, it is still unclear if other planetary bodies are capable of supporting life.

In the search for life there are two broad areas we look into, the requirements of life and actual signs of life. The identification of the key requirements for life enables scientists to focus life detection efforts onto planets and satellites that are considered habitable and more likely to support life. However, our ability to find life or detect signs of life is based on our understanding of life on Earth.

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