Wow. OK so the science geek in me is so anxious to find out what discovery NASA is set to reveal on Thursday of this week. NASA has offered up a press release with some participant names that will be in the conference along with a vague notion of what the thing is about.
The part that grabs my attention is this bit in the title of the press release – “NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery.” So the obvious question that jumps to mind is this – Has NASA discovered some sort of biological life on another planet or perhaps a moon orbiting a planet in our own solar system?
The geeks over at Kottke.org did some digging on the participants in the conference and found out a few details that hint at what we are looking at for Thursday. Pamela Conrad is a geobiologist and wrote a paper about life on Mars. Felisa Wolf-Simon is an oceanographer and has written on photosynthesis using arsenic. Steven Benner is a biologist that is part of the “Team Titan” program studying the largest moon of Saturn. James Elser is an ecologist that is part of a NASA-funded program dubbed Follow the Elements. Take all of those factoids and mix them up and something very interesting emerges. Could NASA be revealing the existence of some sort of life on Titan that uses arsenic for photosynthesis? It could be only the announcement that arsenic and other elements conductive to life on Titan have been found, which is still a major discovery.