NASA is holding a press conference on Thursday "to discuss an astrobiology finding." Are they going to announce that they've found evidence of extraterrestrial life?
Blogger Jason Kottke took a look at NASA's press release, which touts "an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life" (astrobiology, besides being a cool word, is "the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe"), and decided to investigate further by looking at the participants' resumes. So who are the participants?
- A geobiologist who's written about "geology and life on Mars";
- an oceanographer who's done extensive work on arsenic-based photosynthesis;
- a biologist examining Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, and its similarities to early Earth;
- and an ecologist investigating the "chemistry of environments where life evolves."
Now, yes, obviously, throw in a grizzled marine and you've got the making of an awesome movie about discovering aliens. But that's not (the only reason) why Kottke thinks the announcement will be about life on another world. Here's what he says:
So, if I had to guess at what NASA is going to reveal on Thursday, I'd say that they've discovered arsenic on Titan and maybe even detected chemical evidence of bacteria utilizing it for photosynthesis (by following the elements). Or something like that. (thx, sippey)
Of course, the announcement could be something totally different! Or, it could be that NASA has been contacted by a warlike race of space aliens and a certain-to-fail mission carried out by a ragtag bunch of scientists is our only hope of survival.
(The picture, by the way, is an artist's concept of a lake on Titan, "the only place in our solar system beyond Earth known to have liquid on its surface." HOW COOL IS THAT?! Here's a picture of the sun reflecting off that lake:
Space, guys! Space!)
[Kottke.org; image via NASA]