Hunting for evidence of extraterrestrial life? Check the New York Times Science section: It's full of reasons for astrobiological optimism.
First, the Mars Phoenix Lander team reports that Martian soil is chock full of the nutrients required to sustain plant life. The pH of the soil favors plants like asparagus and turnips. (Think deeply about that, aspiring Mars astronauts.) This follows last week's report of melty water ice at Phoenix's landing spot.
A little further down the science page, Natalie Angier reports on the discovery of a triple system of "super earths" orbiting a star just 42 light years away. But the big takeaway isn't this scorched solar system--it's that the search team discovered similarly sized planet-candidates around about a third of the stars they checked. A third! That's good news for the next generation of planet searches, which will seek out planets even more like our own.