NASA news conference on astrobiology discovery

As per the title, NASA has some announcement to pass on regarding an astrobiology discovery. Details are embargoed for now, but I wonder what they will be letting the world know?

There has been speculation for awhile that they have some sort of proof of low level (i.e. microbial) life off of Earth. Could be that they are finally going to reveal that.

My guess is that they have discovered that women are, in fact, from Venus.

I hope it’s not another “extraterrestrial meteorite with life” announcement. That’s never been a slam-dunk. Also hopeful it’s something related to our Solar System (Mars, Europa, Titan, Enceladus) and not one light years away. And since I figured it’s impossible to keep good science announcements quiet - went to Bad Astronomy and he had this cool pic:

Steven Benner co-wrote Is there a common chemical model for life in the universe?. He also worked on Signatures of a Shadow Biosphere with Felisa Wolfe-Simon.

James Elser is Regents’ professor of Ecology in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and co-organizer of ASU’s Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative, and wrote The New Resource Crunch and Peak Phosphorus.

Lots of heavy concepts right there. Shadow biosphere is my favorite.

My money is on evidence of microbes on Titan.

I’ve just come off 10 days of a terrible, terrible stomach bug and that picture made me think someone had managed to snap a shot of the effects of that bug in action, and blown it up.

I had to share.

The source of ninjae.

Took me 2 minutes to figure that out… and now I will never look at that previously beautiful storm cloud the same.

It’s an amazingly accurate picture… Oh, the jets! The jets of water! Arg, it was horrible!

Apparently you also had a prolapse.

Distinguished Fellow indeed.

The Benner group has:

  1. Initiated synthetic biology as a field. The Benner group was the first to synthesize a gene for an enzyme, and used organic synthesis to prepare the first artificial genetic systems. These systems have been used to direct the synthesis of artificial proteins having unnatural amino acids, in FDA-approved clinical assays for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C that improves the medical care of over 400,000 patients annually, and to support the first artificial chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.
  2. Invented dynamic combinatorial chemistry, combining ideas from molecular evolution, enzymology, analytical chemistry, and organic chemistry to generate a strategy to discover small molecule therapeutic leads. A German company, Alantos, is today using this technology to develop drug leads.
  3. Established paleomolecular biology, where researchers resurrect ancestral proteins from extinct organisms for study in the laboratory, The strategy allows scientists to connect chemistry to function in biology, which is defined by an organism’s fitness in a complex and changing environment.
  4. Helped found evolutionary bioinformatics, in 1991, launched one of the first web-based bioinformatics servers with Gaston Gonnet, generated the first naturally organized protein sequence databases, and helped develop the MasterCatalog that generated ca. $4 million in sales. This work also supported the first exhaustive matching of a modern protein sequence database, the first convincing tools to predict structure in proteins from sequence data, strategies to detect distant homologs using structure prediction, and “post-genomic” tools to detect changing protein function.

Also, NASA totally does a better job of announcing announcements than Bioware.

Amen to that.

But just imagine how amazing the press conference would be if it was intro’d with metal, with the headline THIS IS THE NEW SHIT!

Amazing in so many different ways.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they announce life on the moon or Mars (not currently, but at some point with no doubt) there have been some very compelling chemical signatures discovered by the rovers where everyone just hunkered down and refused to commit. A couple of folks did, and everyone else cried “Too soon!” but thankfully science, unlike politics, gives a shit about who’s right and who’s wrong, so I would imagine that the skeptics started their own experiments to determine the facts.


Almost no chance they are going to announce life, even microbial life, outside earth. That would be the discovery of the century. Obama would be giving the press conference.

Discovery of a planet in another solar system that has water and is Earth size. Maybe the creation of a synthetic microbe that could survive on another planet.

Plus we could always come back in a year and get NASA 2 with better graphics and worse gameplay.

Phil says it’s probably not aliens.

My bet is yet another series of spectroscopic observations of organic compounds somewhere very far away, where said compounds are not evidence of life at all, but as usual merely support the possibility of life arising from such chemicals.