Our hunt for alien life needs solid guidelines for clear-cut success


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BARELY a month goes by these days without the detection of a tantalising “sign of life” in an alien atmosphere. With the James Webb Space Telescope’s unmatched ability to probe the chemistry of distant worlds – and so many promising exoplanets to set our sights on – today’s astronomers are increasingly confident that their generation will be the one to discover life beyond Earth.

That is a thrilling possibility, no doubt. But with it comes great responsibility. Given the magnitude of the question of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe, and the public interest that goes with it, we must be…

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