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Located in the constellation of Virgo, Ross 128 is a red dwarf star with no known planets surrounding it. Since it is 10.89 light years from Earth, Ross 128 is not visible to the naked eye, but researchers have been watching it since 1926, when it was discovered by astronomer Frank Elmore Ross.

In mid-May, Ross 128 had a brief turn in the worldwide spotlight after astronomers reported strange signals coming from the star. At the time, experts were unable to definitively state that the signals weren’t a sign of alien activity, although researchers continued to search for the root cause. By late July, though, the cause had finally been determined, to the disappointment of those who search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

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Humans have long speculated on the possibility of life on other planets. However, as easy as it is to dismiss those speculations, it takes on another meaning when a NASA astronaut talks about it.

For that reason, statements from former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao have been getting attention. Chiao worked as an astronaut from 1990 to 2005, participating in four missions into space. During his 230 days in space, Chiao had plenty of time to form opinions on whether or not there might be life out there.

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The question “Is there life out there?” may soon be answered, as NASA prepares to launch a mission to discover if living organisms inhabit the waters of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Europa is the sixth-closest moon to Jupiter, which is the largest planet in our solar system.

At one time, scientists were sure Europa was too icy to host any living being, since its surface water was so icy. However, probes by NASA in the 1970s and 1980s revealed the water on the planet to be surprisingly warmer than had been previously thought, leading experts to wonder if there might be life in those waters.

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