Posts with the tag "National Aeronautics and Space Administration"


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Gizmodo: NASA to announce a new kind of lifeform — but one that lives on planet Earth, not Titan

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Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz, citing a Dutch media outlet, claims that today’s much-hyped NASA press conference will indeed announce the discovery of a new form of life — but not extraterrestrial life.

At their conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon will announce that they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible.

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Life on Titan? The Twitterverse responds

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Yesterday NASA made a surprise announcement that it would hold a press conference “to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.”

As expected, the might of the entire twitterverse set upon unraveling this mystery. Below we collect and interpret the best 140 characters had to offer.

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Kottke.org postulates the existence of bacteria on Titan; Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal says “Urm, I don’t think so”

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So Jason Kottke did something called “research” and looked into the backgrounds of all the scientists at Thursday’s NASA press conference.

This was what he came up with:

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).

Then former Wired man and current tech editor at The Atlantic Alexis Madrigal had to go and quash the hopes and dreams of every nerd in America (and the whole world, in fact).

Damn you, Madrigal! At least give me Tuesday and Wednesday (and much of Thursday)!

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Has NASA found evidence of extraterrestrial life on Titan?

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In a media advisory posted earlier today, NASA announced that it will hold the a press conference at 2pm on December 2 “to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” The announcement is likely related to the recent discovery of Oxygen in the atmosphere of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft.

And with wording like that, we can only assume that this is a truly major announcement. If it just turns out to be a dud — some non-announcement announcement — I sincerely hope their press release writers will soon be looking for another job.

The full media advisory is copied below:

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NASA finds thin belt of water molecules on the Moon’s surface

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There may not be any bat people on the Moon’s surface, but scientists have found the remains of a likely reservoir. A few weeks ago NASA bombarded the moon’s south pole with spent rockets full of sensors. What water they found acts nothing like how water does on Earth.

From Science:

“None of the moon’s water is ever liquid. Water in its reservoirs can be imperceptibly sparse, flows into its reservoirs may proceed a few molecules at a time, and none may ever leave.”

Even more curious, the molecules seem to cluster around a thin belt around the moon’s surface instead of forming large pockets.

Still not enough water for Vespertilio homo to thrive there, but we’ll keep looking. After all that’s the whole point of this exercise isn’t it?

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Saturn’s rings formed from the death of one of its moons; Pluto still not a planet

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Every time there’s breaking planetary news, I fear that some mad scientist has pulled a Pluto and demoted my childhood education. I’ll never forget the Styrofoam solar system I made for the science fair in fifth grade. I hand painted each planet, carved some craters, and attached each them to a large coat hanger. Saturn’s rings were made of lime green pipe cleaners. In retrospect, I guess I should’ve made the rings out of ice cubes.

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