Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Powerful telescopes and sophisticated analytical tools are allowing scientists to see further into the cosmos. The list of places that could conceivably be home to life is growing. Last week NASA announced Saturn's moon Enceladus could support life and today scientists reported the discovery of a super-Earth in the habitable zone of a small star near our solar system.

We seem to be entering a new phase of discovery in an age-old quest to determine if there is life beyond Earth. We have targets in that search, but what exactly are we are looking for?

We asked four researchers to weigh in on that head-scratcher of a question:

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9 mins ago - Health

How Joe Biden would tackle the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If Joe Biden wins in November, his coronavirus response would feature a no-expenses-spared federal approach to mitigating the virus and a beefed-up safety net for those suffering its economic consequences.

Why it matters: It’s nearly inevitable that the U.S. will still be dealing with the pandemic come January 2021, meaning voters in America will choose between two very different options for dealing with it.

Coronavirus cases flat or growing in 48 states

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed, Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia.

Why it matters: This is a grim reminder that no part of the United States is safe from the virus. If states fail to contain their outbreaks, they could soon face exponential spread and overwhelmed health systems.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

U.S. daily coronavirus cases top 50,000 for first time

A medical technologist processes test samples for the coronavirus at a lab in Tampa, Florida, on June 25. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

The number of people to test positive for the novel coronavirus in the United States surpassed 50,000 for the first time ever on Wednesday, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Driving the news: The pandemic is accelerating across the U.S., with the Sun Belt being hit particularly hard. Daily coronavirus case records were reported on Wednesday in Texas (8,076), Arizona (4,878), Georgia (2,946), North Carolina (1,843) and Tennessee (1,806).