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What is Life?
Thanks to NASA’s Kepler and TESS missions and dedicated, long-term exoplanet searches from the ground, we know that small, rocky exoplanets are ubiquitous in the Milky Way and also in the immediate Solar neighbourhood. However, no space- or ground-based telescope is powerful enough to directly detect a large number of extrasolar planets and investigate their properties. LIFE was officially kicked-off in 2018 with the goal to develop the science, the technology and a roadmap for an ambitious space mission that will allow humankind to detect and characterize the atmospheres of hundreds of nearby extrasolar planets including dozens that are similar to Earth. In 2021, the science of the LIFE mission – the characterization of temperate, terrestrial exoplanets and searching for life outside the Solar System – was identified as a top-priority theme by a Senior Committee advising the Science Director of the European Space Agency (ESA) and is now considered as a potential topic for a Large Mission in ESA’s future Science Programme.