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A new commission of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has been established to formally coordinate efforts to search for extraterrestrial life. Commission 51, Search for Extraterrestrial Life, was approved at the 18th IAU General Assembly held in Greece this past August.

Among the new commission's objectives are the search for planets around other stars; the search for radio transmissions, intentional or unintentional, of extraterrestrial origin; the search for biologically relevant interstellar molecules and the study of their formation processes; the examination of detection methods for potential spectroscopic evidence of biological activity; and the coordination of efforts in all these areas at the international level and the establishment of collaborative programs with other international scientific societies with related interests.