The UK government is to invest a large chunk of £380m over the next 10 years searching for alien life in outer space, science minister Lord Sainsbury said this week.
The funding was agreed at a meeting of European 'Space Ministers' in Edinburgh.
Most of the funds, some £147m, goes to the European Space Agency's (ESA) Living Planet programme which monitors environmental changes on Earth. Astronomy and alien-spotting, or searching for signs of life in the solar system, nets £130m.
Other funds will be allocated for new communication satellite systems and environmental satellites to report on crop growth monitoring and weather prediction.
The ESA is already committed to carrying the British-led Beagle 2 Lander to Mars in 2003.
"It will keep the UK at the leading edge of science and technology in Europe and the world," Lord Sainsbury told the meeting.
"The science projects are a real opportunity for UK businesses to win contracts and lead the way in technology and jobs."
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