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Blunderov
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NASA to Reveal 'Astrobiology Discovery' Thursday
« on: 2010-12-01 17:56:17 »
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[Blunderov]
democraticunderground.com

IMPORTANT NASA to Reveal 'Astrobiology Discovery' Thursday   Source: NASA

November 30, 2010 - Aliens are a terrifying yet exciting prospect. We've all seen Smallville. We can't be the only ones out there. There has to be other planets, other people, other life forms, right? Sure, we're not expecting them all to look like Clark Kent or the charming Kara, but we'd like to know for sure that they're out there.

Well, it probably won't be as exciting as uncovering an advanced civilization of beings not too different from us, but NASA says it's got an 'astrobiology discovery' to share with us all on Thursday afternoon. To say we are excited would be a huge understatement. However, NASA does say that this discovery will 'impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.' Close encounters are getting closer, guys!

Here it is, straight from the Space Agency's mouth:

NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on


Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.


The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website at http://www.nasa.gov

Read more: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2010/M10-110.html

[Bl.] Maybe not quite as exciting as we hoped.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/8174040/Life-as-we-dont-know-it-discovery-could-prove-existence-of-aliens.html

'Life as we don't know it' discovery could prove existence of aliens

NASA has sent the internet into a frenzy after it announced an "astrobiology finding" that could suggest alien life exists – even on earth.

The bacteria has been found at the bottom of Mono Lake in California's Yosemite National Park which is rich in arsenic - usually poisonous to life

The discovery could prove the theory of "shadow" creatures which exist in tandem with our own and in hostile environments previously thought uninhabitable.

The "life as we don't know it" could even survive on hostile planets and develop into intelligent creatures such as humans if and when conditions improve.

In a press conference scheduled for tomorrow evening, researchers will unveil the discovery of a microbe that can live in an environment previously thought too poisonous for any life-form to survive.
The bacteria has been found at the bottom of Mono Lake in California's Yosemite National Park which is rich in arsenic – usually poisonous to life.

Somehow the creature uses the arsenic as a way of surviving and this ability raises the prospect that similar life could exist on other planets, which do not have our benevolent atmosphere.

Dr Lewis Dartnell, an astrobiologist at the Centre for Planetary Sciences in London, said: "If these organisms use arsenic in their metabolism, it demonstrates that there are other forms of life to those we knew of.

"They're aliens, but aliens that share the same home as us."

The space agency will announce the full extent of the findings at a press conference titled “astrobiology finding which will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life”.

They believe the creature proves the existence of a second form of life that exists in tandem and before and after intelligent life blooms on planets across the universe.

It follows a growing belief that alien life far from being rare is actually abundant in the universe just in a form that is not recognisable as life.

At the heart of his theory is that life on earth may have come and gone many times during the planet's existence.

These creatures are the remnants of the previous inhabitants.

Scientists have also estimated that life of some kind exists on hundred billion trillion Earth-like planets in space.

However it is usually just bacteria and intelligent life such as us is fleeting and only exists for a fraction of the time.

A study last month said that the universe is teeming with planets capable of supporting alien life.

After studying stars similar to the Sun, astronomers found that almost one in four could have small, rocky planets just like the earth.

Many of these worlds may occupy the "Goldilocks" zone – the region where conditions are neither too hot, nor too cold, for liquid water and possibly life.

Planets outside our own solar system are too far away and too small to see directly with telescopes.

Instead, astronomers study distant stars for tell-tale 'wobbles' – caused when stars are pulled by a planet's gravity.

In the last decade, nearly 500 planets have been discovered outside the solar system this way.

In September astronomers announced the discovery of the most Earth-like planet ever found – a rocky world three times the size of our own world, orbiting a star 20 light years away.

The planet appears to have an atmosphere, a gravity like our own and could have flowing water on its surface.

The discovery came three years after astronomers found a similar, slightly less habitable planet around the same small red star called Gliese 581 in the constellation of Libra.

The planet, named Gliese g, is 118,000,000,000,000 miles away – so far away that light from its start takes 20 years to reach the earth.

The latest news induced feverish debate as to whether scientists were about to announce that they had discovered life on other worlds.

"Did they find ET?", asked one headline in the U S., while another wrote, "Has Nasa found little green men?"

Speculation mounted around the world about the mystery information and buoyed people who already believe in aliens.

One said on U.S. news website MSNBC, "It's still hard for me to understand why people can't accept that aliens exist ... ET is real".

"Fact is, life is everywhere," another wrote. 'I don't need some BS announcement to know it because I have common sense.'

A newspaper in South Korea proclaimed "Nasa to hold news conference on alien life".

The event will be streamed live on the internet tomorrow evening.

There are also conspiracy theorists who believe the government is involved in a cover-up of some kind.

"It is embarrassing how our country makes it all a secret and hides and controls what we know," one American ranted, insisting aliens do exist and the U.S. knows it.

"The government lies to us all the time."

Others were more light-hearted in their predictions.

"Looks like good old Elvis finally ran out of hiding places!," joked a person on a science blog.

For NASA TV streaming video and downlink information
« Last Edit: 2010-12-01 18:05:10 by Blunderov » Report to moderator   Logged
MoEnzyme
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Re:NASA to Reveal 'Astrobiology Discovery' Thursday
« Reply #1 on: 2010-12-01 18:08:41 »
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Yeah this seems to be going around. Sat shared another link about this yesterday on Facebook. They certainly have my attention primed.

http://io9.com/5702433/is-nasa-about-to-announce-the-discovery-of-extraterrestrial-life

Quote:
NASA is bringing together a geologist, an oceanographer, a biologist, and an ecologist for a press conference on Thursday to talk about an astrobiology discovery that "will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." Yeah, this could be major.

Blogger Jason Kottke did some inspired sleuthing regarding what Thursday's press conference might be about. He discovered the expertises of the various people involved include the interaction of geology and life on alien planets (specifically Mars), photosynthesis using arsenic, Saturn's moon Titan as an early Earth environment, and the chemistry of life, including in places without carbon, water, or oxygen.

Taking that all together and combined with the current blitz of news from NASA's Cassini probe around Saturn, Kottke guesses the announcement might have something to do with the discovery of arsenic on Titan and, quite possibly, some primitive bacterial form of life using it for photosynthesis.

Considering NASA's claim that this will impact our search for alien life, I'd have to figure this has something to do with expanding the definition of "life as we know it", suggesting more elements than we previously thought possible can be used as the raw materials for life. All this, of course, is just speculation - we'll be listening in to the press conference on Thursday and have the news for you as it breaks.

[NASA via kottke.org]

Send an email to Alasdair Wilkins, the author of this post, at alasdair@io9.com.
« Last Edit: 2010-12-01 18:15:38 by MoEnzyme » Report to moderator   Logged

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MoEnzyme
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Re:NASA to Reveal 'Astrobiology Discovery' Thursday
« Reply #2 on: 2010-12-02 15:48:19 »
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This sounds a bit less exciting than the buildup suggested, but I suppose it's still interesting. No new life found in space, no new life found on earth, but the possibility for alternative chemistry for life demonstrated in the laboratory. -Mo

Subsisting on Arsenic, a Microbe May Redefine Life
By DENNIS OVERBYE
Published: December 2, 2010


full article:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/science/03arsenic.html

intro:
Quote:
Scientists said Thursday that they had trained a bacterium to eat and grow on a diet of arsenic, in place of phosphorus — one of six elements considered essential for life — opening up the possibility that organisms could exist elsewhere in the universe or even here on Earth using biochemical powers we have not yet dared to dream about.

The bacterium, scraped from the bottom of Mono Lake in California and grown for months in a lab mixture containing arsenic, gradually swapped out atoms of phosphorus in its little body for atoms of arsenic.

Scientists said the results, if confirmed, would expand the notion of what life could be and where it could be. “There is basic mystery, when you look at life,” said Dimitar Sasselov, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and director of an institute on the origins of life there, who was not involved in the work. “Nature only uses a restrictive set of molecules and chemical reactions out of many thousands available. This is our first glimmer that maybe there are other options.”

A scanning electron micrograph of the bacteria strain GFAJ-1.

 03arsenic2-popup.jpg
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