Scientists have discovered more and more evidence that life may well exist thoughout the universe. Not alien civilisations, but something more basic: life itself. Precursors to life - the molecular starter kits that give rise to DNA-based organisms, have been found all over the galaxy, and lab experiments have shown how interstellar cloud environments host the right conditions to create amino acids and membrane-like vesicles. On Earth, extremophile bacteria offer evidence that life can survive in the harshest of conditions, and scientists studying comets, meteors and ancient ice cores provide similar conclusions. In the next few years, new space telescopes, such as ESA's Darwin, will hunt for tell-tale signatures of life-giving atmospheres on planets that orbit in distant stars.