The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration is due to hold a press conference later today to discuss a finding that it says will “impact the search for evidence of extra-terrestrial life”. The press conference to be held at 19:00 GMT is expected to announce a “significant” astrobiological discovery.
Astrobiology is the study of the origin and evolution of life in the universe. There is a press embargo in place however details leaked suggest that the announcement could be related to the discovery of bacteria which has been discovered thriving in an arsenic lake in Yosemite National Park in California.
This means the bacterium in utilising arsenic instead of phosphorus. Previously it was believed that phosphorus was an element that was vital for the formation of life. However if this is not the case, and indeed is the basis for the press conference announcement later today, it means that there are many more planets which could potentially sustain life than was previously believed.