Thursday, December 2, 2010

NASA to announce ???

NASA will be holding a press conference at 2 pm EST today (Thursday, December 2) that will be interesting.  From their Media Advisory issued on Monday:

WASHINGTON -- 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

Participants are:

- Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey,
  Menlo Park, Calif.
- Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
- Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution,
   Gainesville, Fla.
- James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe

Phil Plaitt over at Bad Astronomy has some information about this - the smart money says NASA's not going to announce finding life on Mars or Titan, but finding some chemical evidence that maybe, possibly could indicate bacteria (archaea) might have been able to develop on Mars or Titan (my bet is arsenic-eating archaea).

NASA has a habit of overhyping announcements like this to get press interest but when the details come out everyone is disappointed (even though the findings are often interesting - just not earthshaking).

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