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NASA's Big Arsenic-Based Life Claim Was Wrong (Update)

‘Arsenic-life’ bacterium prefers phosphorous after all, Nature “Tawfik says that he was shocked by how good the proteins were at discriminating between the essential phosphate and the deadly arsenate. This does not mean that arsenate does not get into the bacteria, he points out. “It just shows that this bacterium has evolved to extract phosphate under almost all circumstances.” The exceedingly high preference for phosphorous found in the key proteins […]

  • NASA Watch
  • October 3, 2012
Practicing On Earth How To Find Life Elsewhere

Astrobiologist Dale Andersen’s Field Reports: Lake Untersee, Antarctica (Gigapixel panorama) “Those early ecosystems resulted in the formation of luxuriant microbial mats with a variety of morphologies which are seen today in the stromatolitic fossil record scattered around the globe. Until recently, there have been no reports of modern microorganisms forming such structures, but in 2008 our research team discovered large conical stromatolites forming beneath the thick perennial ice of Lake […]

  • NASA Watch
  • March 2, 2012
Kepler Finds Two Candidate SETI Signals – Or Not?

First Look at Kepler SETI Candidate Signals “The signals below are undoubtedly examples of terrestrial radio frequency interference (RFI). … These signals look similar to what we think might be produced from an extraterrestrial technology. They are narrow in frequency, much narrower than would be produced by any known astrophysical phenomena, and they drift in frequency with time, as we would expect because of the doppler effect imposed by the […]

  • NASA Watch
  • January 6, 2012
How Congressional Budget Uncertainties Affect Science

Exobiology 2010 Update #4 “As you know, federal spending is under intense scrutiny. In addition, the timing of the federal budget review and approval process has been less than ideal. These developments have affected our ability to manage Astrobiology Program funds as effectively as we would like. Over the past decade, the proposal due date for the Exobiology Program has moved from June to August, then to September, and, finally, […]

  • NASA Watch
  • July 22, 2011
Cuts To NASA's Exobiology Program

NASA Exobiology 2010 Update #3, NASA SMD “I had hoped by now to have selection recommendations complete. However, as I was working through the reviews, a budget reduction to Exobiology was unexpectedly announced. Mary Voytek and I are fighting back and hope to reclaim some of the funding but until I know my budget, I cannot make selection recommendations. It is likely, though, that this year’s selections will be fewer […]

  • NASA Watch
  • June 20, 2011
Arsenic, Astrobiology, NASA, and the Media

Exclusive Interview: Discoverer of Arsenic Bacteria, in the Eye of the Storm, Science Now “Q: So, NASA approached you about doing a press conference, and you thought that was a good idea? F.W.-S.: I wouldn’t say I thought it was a good or bad idea. I’d never been to a press conference, but it made good sense to me that my mom should know what I’d been up to, and […]

  • NASA Watch
  • December 23, 2010
NASA Researchers Start To Backtrack on Earlier Claims

Study on arsenic-based life takes a beating on the Web, Washington Post “Linda Billings, a George Washington University research scientist and NASA consultant on media issues, said that based on the mountain of blogs and comments she has collected, one of the central concerns appears to be NASA’s use of the word “extraterrestrial” in its initial release. “The fact is that NASA is involved in the search for extraterrestrial life, […]

  • NASA Watch
  • December 17, 2010
"Life As We Know It", Redefined

Keith’s note: Multiple, reliable sources within the Astrobiology community tell me that NASA’s Astrobiology announcement tomorrow concerns Arsenic-based biochemistry and the implications for the origin of life on Earth, how it may have happened more than once on our planet, and the implications for life arising elsewhere in the universe. NASA has not found life on any other world. That said, as a biologist, I have to say that this […]

  • NASA Watch
  • December 1, 2010
NASA's Astrobiology News: Arsenic Biochemistry Anyone? (Update)

Keith’s 30 Nov note: As has happened before, NASA puts out advance notice of a provocative major discovery, media advisory and speculation goes into overdrive with titles of articles such as “Has NASA found life near Saturn?” based on a single, speculative blogger post. Calm down folks. According to Alexis Madrial, a senior editor at The Atantic (and used to write for Wired) posting on Twitter “I’m sad to quell […]

  • NASA Watch
  • December 1, 2010
50th Anniversary of NASA's Exo/Astrobiology Program

Seeking Signs of Life: A Symposium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of NASA’s Exo/Astrobiology Program “NASA’s Astrobiology Program addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth, and if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe? Experts in a range of relevant disciplines will engage in an exciting day of discussions . . . […]

  • NASA Watch
  • October 5, 2010