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If you’re looking for alien life in the solar system, it might be best to start small.

That was the message from NASA on Wednesday as researchers listed eight possible missions that would look for alien life by closely examining microorganisms and minerals.

“Astrobiology and the search for life is central to many of the most important missions that we are studying,” Steve Squyres, a researcher with Cornell University, said on a conference call with reporters.

“It is one of the key drivers for solar system exploration.”

The possible missions, which include using robots to get soil samples from Mars and looking for life in water on distant moons, have not been approved.

NASA has to decide which of the missions to fund.

By looking for patterns created by living organisms, NASA hopes to learn about the scope of life in the solar system and also to probe for clues about how life began on Earth.

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