NASA announces Dec. 2 press conference on extraterrestrial life

saturn moon titan

A NASA press conference on Dec. 2 may announce evidence indicating the existence of life on the Saturn moon Titan. Image: CC Forsetius/Flickr

A NASA press conference was announced Tuesday with the teaser that the subject is about the search for extraterrestrial life. Taking a page out of Apple’s playbook, NASA has announced an event on the web that is creating a storm of speculation. Based on the list of scientists involved in the press conference, the announcement could be about an astrobiological discovery that hints at the possibility of life on nearby worlds.

NASA’s astrobiology discovery

In a statement about the NASA press conference, the space agency said that it will announce an astrobiology discovery that will “impact the search for extraterrestrial life.” No other information is offered save for a list of scientists participating in the press conference. A geologist, an oceanographer, a biologist and an ecologist — scientists who are working on NASA astrobiology programs — will conduct a panel discussion. The NASA press conference will begin at 2 p.m. EST at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Is there life on Titan?

Amid all the speculation about the NASA press conference, an idea has emerged that NASA may have discovered evidence of life on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The group of scientists in attendance includes Pamela Conrad, an expert on geology as evidence of life on Mars. Felisa Wolfe-Simon is an oceanographer who has written about photosynthesis and arsenic, an element known to exist on Titan. NASA Biologist Stephen Benner has written about how Titan’s environment could resemble a young Earth. James Elser is an ecologist with NASA’s astrobiology program specializing in the chemistry of environments conducive to life.

NASA’s search for extraterrestrial life

NASA’s press conference announcement comes shortly after several other groundbreaking discoveries in the search for extraterrestrial life. In September a planet called Gliese 581g was discovered at a distance from its star called the Goldilocks Zone, a region where a planet could hold liquid water on its surface. On Nov. 20 NASA announced the discovery of the 500th planet orbiting distant stars beyond our solar system. The Kepler Mission, launched earlier this year, has identified more than 700 possible alien worlds scanning a small section of space holding no more than 156,000 stars.

Sources

Space.com

Kottke.org

CBS News

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