The idea of life on Mars has been with us for nearly 300 years, ever since early astronomers saw what they believed to be polar ice caps through their primitive telescopes. Since then, space probes have indeed confirmed that the red planet has water and future missions might tell us if Mars contains any traces of life, whether extinct or still active. Such a discovery would be of tremendous scientific significance: the first time that any signs of extraterrestrial life have ever been detected. Many people would also find it heartening to learn that we’re not entirely alone in this vast cold cosmos
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