hypothetical extraterrestrial life that is capable of thinking, purposeful activity. Work in the new field of astrobiology has provided some evidence that evolution of other intelligent species in the Milky Way Galaxy is not utterly improbable. In particular, more than 250 extrasolar planets have been detected, and underground water may be present on Mars and on some of the moons of the outer solar system. These efforts suggest that there could be many worlds on which life, and occasionally intelligent life, might arise. Searches for radio signals or optical flashes from other star systems that would indicate the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence have so far proved fruitless, but detection of such signals would have an enormous scientific and cultural impact.
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