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See Inside Scientific American Volume 310, Issue 6

How to Search for Life on Mars

Experiments now under development could finally answer one of the most profound questions in science: Does life exist outside of Earth?

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Astronomers have learned a great many things about Mars since the first probes landed there nearly four decades ago.

We know that liquid water once flowed across its surface and that Mars and Earth were similar in their early history. When life on Earth arose, some 3.5 billion years ago, Mars was warmer than it is today and had liquid oceans, an active magnetic field and a thicker atmosphere. Given the similarity between the two planets, it seems reasonable to think that whatever steps led to life on Earth could also have occurred on Mars.

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