NASA Discovers New Form of Life
Take a look at these alien earthlings. They are different from you and me.
NASA announced today that its researchers have discovered a microorganism that thrives in toxic arsenic. The engineered bug swaps out phosphorous atoms for arsenic in its nucleic acid, forming DNA that is fundamentally different from any other known to exist. The difference indicates that rather than six essential elements necessary for life, only five remain on the chalkboard as a basis for what makes creatures tick, those being carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulfur.
The little bugs at the heart of the matter come from Mono Lake in California. Researchers selected this place for its abnormal and harsh environment of hypersaline and arsenic-rich water. Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon scraped the microorganisms off the base of the lake and held them in a lab for several months. The test was to force feed them increasing amounts of arsenic to see if they could adapt. They did, and over time changed their genetic structure to survive without phosphorous, developing an odd body structure with large negative pockets inside their globs.
What this scientific discovery reveals to the world is similar to discoveries of other extremophiles in the past, but to a larger degree of textbook redefinition. Now the search for extraterrestrial life should include planets and moons once considered inhospitable for lack of a certain element.
Even still, it comes as the financial future of NASA totters on the rocks in congress, right in time for an assessment of the Space Agency’s spending increase proposed for next year. This could prove doubly bountiful for the future of stargazing in America, even if we’re not actually any closer to shaking hands with martians before the new year.
Until we finance more explorers into outer space, what we’re left with is our own planet’s biodiversity taking a dive, and a space western starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig called “Cowboys & Aliens.” Hopefully it’s enough to sate our appetite enough for the time being.
We want to believe in extraterrestrials, for sure, and now we have another reason to keep on dreaming.