For scientists, the big question about alien life is no longer if it will be found but when."I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said this week during a forum on habitable places in space.

"We know where to look. We know how to look. In most cases we have the technology, and we're on a path to implementing it. And so I think we're definitely on the road," said an optimistic Stofan.

She cautioned, however, that "we are not talking about little green men...we are talking about little microbes."

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