Thursday, December 2, 2010 | By: Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

NASA Discovers New Life: Arsenic Bacteria With DNA Completely Alien To What We Know

NASA is holding a press conference today at 2pm to announce a major finding in their research in astrobiology, and speculation is high the agency said the finding "will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life."

The news has leaked now, and while the discovery is not extraterrestrial life, NASA has indeed uncovered an entirely new form of life that "doesn't share the biological building blocks of anything currently living" on Earth, Gizmodo reports.

Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible. While she and other scientists theorized that this could be possible, this is the first discovery. The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding beings in other planets that don't have to be like planet Earth.

One of the scientists set to speak at the conference today, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, had written a paper "Did Nature also choose arsenic?" earlier this year wondering if that element could also be a foundation for life:

We hypothesize that ancient biochemical systems, analogous to but distinct from those known today, could have utilized arsenate in the equivalent biological role as phosphate.

Organisms utilizing such 'weird life' biochemical pathways may have supported a 'shadow biosphere' at the time of the origin and early evolution of life on Earth or on other planets.

Such organisms may even persist on Earth today, undetected, in unusual niches.

It would seem her theory is correct. In March of this year the London Times had a fascinating report on Wolfe-Simon's research at Lake Mono:

She points out that Mono Lake arsenic life, if found, may only go as far as proving the extreme adaptability of life on Earth billions of years ago. It is generally agreed that on early Earth the chemical soup was very different because of the material being thrown out of the planet's depths by volcanoes and hydrothermal vents and the lack of biologically derived oxygen. If arsenic was around in far greater concentrations then, perhaps "arsenolife", as she calls it, in Mono Lake is evidence of that ancestral life, a finding that would deepen our understanding of how life on Earth got started.

There will be other scientists at the news conference. Jason Kottke gives a rundown on each of them and their expertise here. NASA's press release announcing the news conference is below.

NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery; Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 2 p.m. EST On Dec. 2

Press Release:  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

Media representatives may attend the conference or ask questions by phone or from participating NASA locations. To obtain dial-in information, journalists must send their name, affiliation and telephone number to Steve Cole at or call 202-358-0918 by noon Dec. 2.


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