NASA-sponsored research has provided important insights into the components, processes, and environments that could have caused life to form on the Earth. More than 5,000 planets (2950 confirmed; 2337 candidates) as of September 2017 (http://exoplanets.org) have been discovered orbiting other stars. That information has put our own solar system into a new perspective. While planets are common in our galaxy, the structure of our solar system has some important, rare (not unique) characteristics. This course provides an overview of the methods and latest results on the search for life beyond the earth, and prospects for future discoveries.