Despite science fiction’s fondness for alien invasions, the first signs of life on another planet most likely won’t come from radio beacons, let alone ships decimating the White House with giant energy beam. They may not come from Earth robots hunting for life, either. Instead, the first evidence for life may be in the form of passive signals, telltale signs of life and its processes, that astronomers will find in a planet’s atmosphere. And those could very well come from the most passive life forms we know: plants.
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