The University of Utah is stepping up the search for life on other planets and other secrets of the universe.

Researchers at the university are joining an international effort to chart the night sky for planets that could support life and investigate the dark matter that makes up most of the universe.

The department of physics is joining the third phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which includes about 20 research institutions. The work is scheduled to last into 2014.

The university's work is being funded by a $450,000 grant from the Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation and a matching university grant.