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NASA has set a News Conference on an Astrobiology Discovery that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

NASA is set to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Dec. 2.

They are going to discuss a astrobiology find that is going to have an impact on the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Really have they found Aliens?

Well Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe, Earth is the only known inhabited planet in the universe to date. However, this may state to change on Thursday.

The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium in Washington, and will be broadcast live through NASA Television and streamed online at

The Participants are

  • Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington

(From NASA)

Dr. Mary A. Voytek, a microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA, took charge of NASA’s Astrobiology Program effective September 15, 2008, as Interim Senior Scientist for Astrobiology in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA HQ. Dr. Voytek’s primary research interest is aquatic microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. She studies environmental controls on microbial transformations of nutrients, xenobiotic, and metals in freshwater and marine systems. She has worked in several extreme environments including Antarctica, hyper saline lakes, deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and terrestrial deep- subsurface sites. At the USGS, she heads the Microbiology and Molecular Ecology team. She has conducted deep-biosphere studies at the Chesapeake Bay Impact Structure. The most recent results of this research project were published in the June 27, 2008, issue of Science.


  • Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.

(From Wikipedia)

Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon of the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, has been studying possible arsenic based life forms at Mono lake, sampling the mud, reducing phosphorus levels, and hoping to show that there is a different form of life propagating in the arsenic-rich waters.

(From New York Times)

Could the Mono Lake arsenic prove there is a shadow biosphere?

Do alien life forms exist in a Californian lake? Could there be a shadow biosphere? One scientist is trying to find out

(From Astrobiology Magazine)

Mono Lake, just east of Yosemite National Park, is a place of bizarre natural beauty. It also boasts one of the highest natural concentrations of arsenic on Earth. The latter fact, says geomicrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon, makes it a good spot to look for alien life.

  • Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

(From AMASE)

Pamela Conrad, an astrobiologist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has traveled to the ends of the Earth to study life. Her main work is on planetary habitability assessment. It focuses on the development of approaches and measurements for assessment of habitability on planetary surface environments and the development of non-invasive optical methods for the in situ "triaging" of potential rock sample targets, including induced native fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy at various excitation wavelengths. She is interested in the short-range remote sensing of chemical biosignitures and the stability and environment distribution of chemical biosignitures.


  • Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville, Fla.

(From Wikipedia)

Steven A. Benner is a former V.T. & Louise Jackson Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Florida Department of Chemistry. He was also a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology.

Benner left University of Florida in late December 2005 to found The Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology (TWIST) in Honor of Frank Westheimer. He also created the Foundation For Applied Molecular Evolution (FFAME).

Benner has also founded Eragen Biosciences and Firebird Bimolecular Science's LLC .

Benner joined the faculty at the University of Florida in 1997, after working at Harvard University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

He received his B.S./M.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University under the supervision of Robert Burns Woodward and Frank Westheimer.

  • James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe

(From ASU)

Dr. Elser's research involves the integrative field of biological stoichiometry, the study of balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in living systems. While this work is primarily ecological in focus and includes studies of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and biota, the approach uses an evolutionary perspective to integrate levels of organization from the molecule and cell to the ecosystem. Specific studies involve observational and experimental studies at various scales, including laboratory cultures, short-term field experiments and sustained whole-ecosystem manipulations. Over the years, field sites have included the Experimental Lakes Area in Ontario, Canada; lakes of the Arctic; lakes, forests, and grasslands of the upper Midwest; desert springs in Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert; and the surrounding Sonoran Desert. In addition, Dr. Elser collaborates extensively with mathematicians in developing quantitative theoretical approaches to these questions.  In more recent work he has extended the work to investigate the connections among C:N:P stoichiometry, growth rate, rRNA physiology and genetics, and ecological dynamics in diverse biota and ecosystems and to evaluate the application of these ideas to tumor dynamics. Currently, he is an active member of the ASU’s NASA-funded Astrobiology project “Follow the Elements” and a co-organizer of ASU’s Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative.


Looking at Felisa Wolfe-Simon’s work in Mono lake could this leave us clues on what the conference is going to be about?