By Jason McClellan
Various discoveries by NASA and other organizations during the past few years have generated considerable interest within the mainstream media and the general public in the search for extraterrestrial life.
NASA’s Kepler space telescope has been on a planet-hunting mission since 2009, searching for Earth-like planets. The mission has already confirmed the discovery of 61 planets and found more than 2,000 planetary candidates. And recent data from the European Southern Observatory’s HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) planet-hunting telescope suggests that there are tens of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone, many thought to have the correct conditions to support life.
More exciting was today’s announcement that the Kepler mission will continue at least through 2016. Originally scheduled to conclude later this year,