NASA has slyly, or inadvertantly, let out a handful of clues that a planned news conference will reveal details of an important new finding regarding life on other planets. There have been a number of moments in the history of astrobiology where an important find has gotten us all very excited, including the discovery of isotopic profiles on a Mars rock (a meteorite) indicating a biological pathway, parallel findings on Mars, various discoveries related to water on Mars, and analysis of places like Europa and Titan, and so on. The word on the street is that this is going to be one such moment.

The press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2. Speculation based on who will be present at the press conference has suggested that this is a about Mars, or Titan, or Photosynthesis, or something.

Specifically, NASA has said that they will discuss: “an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” To me, that could mean that something has been found on another planet or moon that is or was alive, an actual finding out there, or it could mean a new technique or model (the finding) that will unfold as a project (a mission).


  1. #1 Albatross
    November 30, 2010

    My guess, being a bit of a curmudgeon, is that they found signs of some sort of amino acid on one of the outer moons.

    A pessimist is never disappointed, and only pleasantly surprised.

  2. #2 Rob
    November 30, 2010

    @Albatross: Would that even be news? IIRC, glycine was found in interstellar space quite a while ago.

  3. #3 Romeo Vitelli
    November 30, 2010

    Considering all the hype this announcement of a news conference has generated, NASA had been have some substantial news to report or else critics are going to be grumbling that they have too much time on their hands.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    November 30, 2010

    Given that the press conference is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, I am going to speculate that they will announce the publication of a paper in a GlamourMag. As to the contents of this paper, your guess is as good as mine.

  5. #5 Jared
    November 30, 2010


  6. #6 gruebait
    November 30, 2010

    How ’bout a whole slew of Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of some distant stars…or, or…

  7. #7 sjors
    November 30, 2010

    Looks like good old Elvis finally ran out of hiding places!

  8. #8 NASA intern
    November 30, 2010

    A new way to detect life. Arsenic based biochemistry

  9. #9 daedalus2u
    November 30, 2010

    My guess, the Dust Analyzer

    Picked up unmistakable signature of life in the flyby of Rhea that measured the O2 and CO2 in the atmosphere. They caught a dust particle with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and maybe sodium, potassium, zinc, sulfur and iron.

  10. #10 M.C.
    December 1, 2010

    NASA intern may be right – Felisa Wolfe-Simon was suggesting in the Spring that some results of her research in this area could be published by the end of the year.

  11. #11 Spongebob
    December 1, 2010