New weirdest stars in the galaxy checked for aliens
There's a bunch of stuff zipping in front of a distant pair of stars, making it a good place to look for E.T.The answer so far, for the umpteen-millionth time in a row is: It's probably not aliens.
The creature’s bizarre eating habits could help unlock mysteries about how early life forms endured harsh conditions on Earth. Metallosphaera sedula, a highly resilient microbe able to withstand extreme temperatures and highly acidic environments, can survive solely on a diet of space rocks
Forecasts could also help on the logistical side. Hospitals and doctors offices could better understand when to staff up or order more supplies if they know flu is going to peak in their state soon. Meteorite - eating microbes could help us look for alien life .
What might alien life look like, and what traces would it leave behind? If extraterrestrial plant and plankton analogs fill their planet’s atmosphere with oxygen, or an advanced civilization fills its skies with satellites, we might be able to spot such global upheavals from Earth. But if life elsewhere is small and limited in scale, its fingerprints may be subtle and hard to distinguish, even right in our own cosmic backyard.
Any extraterrestrial critters in our solar system, given the lack of obvious greenery and movement out there, are likely to be simple microbes. Perhaps they burrow deep under the Martian soil to hide from damaging ultraviolet rays. Or perhaps some lie dormant in asteroids, waiting to land in a friendlier environment. A team of researchers at the University of Vienna has tried to guess how such microbes could survive on their own, and what marks they might leave behind, by studying one of Earth’s hardiest bugs. Now, in a recent Nature publication, they detail exactly what happens when you feed meteorites to microbes.
NASA’s planet-hunting probe joins search for alien life
NASA's newest planet-hunter is taking part in the hunt for intelligent aliens. The space agency's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission will collaborate with the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), the teams announced on Wednesday.
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We also take a look back at the week's biggest tech stories. We don’t have all of the details about Series X just yet— we ’ll gradually learn all about it before it hits the market by holiday of 2020. Meteorite - eating microbes could help us look for alien life .
“I want to squeeze out of this important information related to the search for life,” says Tetyana Milojevic, a coauthor and biophysical chemist at the University of Vienna.
Just don’t call this microbe a bacterium. Metallosphaera sedula is a member of an entirely separate kingdom of life known as archea, which were first discovered in hot and salty pools that would be lethal to most organisms. Even within this group of rugged specimens, M. sedula is an extreme survivalist. It prefers extra hot acid—around 160 degrees F and a solution with the astringency of stomach juices. In also tolerates high concentrations of toxic metals, making it a prime example of what Milojevic calls a polyextremophilic microbe—an organism that likes its home extreme in various senses. She also says that M. sedula can survive long periods of dehydration tardigrade style, and speculates that it might be able to handle the radiation of deep space, at least if entombed inside a meteorite.
How Will We Make First Contact With Alien Life?
Fifteen years ago next month, the crew of a U.S. Navy jet fighter made first contact with what some believe was extraterrestrial life. What they actually made contact with, most likely, was some kind of drone. Still, first contact is increasing likely, scientists told The Daily Beast. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe a decade from now. Maybe much, much farther in the future. For human civilization, that encounter could change everything.
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But what really makes M. sedula a prime suspect for comparison to theoretical space microbes is its diet. Many organisms on Earth—such as plants—metabolize energy from sunbeams, and others even do it from heat sources like deep sea vents. M. sedula, however, feasts by ripping electrons from metals, making a metal-rich meteorite into something of a smorgasbord.
Milojevic and her colleagues weren’t sure which metals the microbe had a taste for, however, or how exactly it would process them, so they borrowed a stony meteorite from Vienna’s Natural History Museum (you just have to ask nicely, Milojevic says) and set up a microbe buffet. They cultured some microbes in a solution containing meteorite powder, and others directly on coin-sized flakes of intact meteorite.
Figuring out how to feed them was easy enough, but the group spent years developing techniques to slice up and analyze the odd bugs after their meals. Most microbes stay squishy, but the more metals M. sedula eats, the crustier and stonier it gets. “[The hardened microbes] damage tools with which you are going to cut” them up with, Milojevic says. After eventually devising methods to separate the stony parts of the microbes from their soft parts as much as possible, the team found three main ways in which M. sedula changes its environment—three potential fingerprints of life.
You’ll never guess what’s hiding in this giant sea blob
If you've ever wanted to explore an alien land full of bizarre creatures, diving into Earth's oceans is about as close as you're ever going to get. In a video that was recorded by researchers who were diving in the waters off the coast of Norway, a giant, alien-like blob appears. The strange object seems utterly otherworldly, but once the camera gets a bit closer, the blob begins to tell its secrets.
What can this tell us about life in space? Don't miss Telescope, premiering Feb. "The Earth's most extreme microbes , including bacteria that eat radioactive metals, tolerate lethal doses of radiation and thrive in the planet's driest desert, are fascinating in their own right.
The study only looked at responses from those in the US , focused on microbial alien life , and did not take into account whether individuals might have been influenced by previous media Nonetheless, the authors say the research offers insights into how humans will react to the discovery of alien life .
First, the microbe definitely thrived on meteorite chow. Milojevic jokes that she aimed “to please [her] microorganisms with the best-ever feeding substrate.” The extraterrestrial fragments contained many types of metals, but the group found that M. sedula ate only iron, and in a particular way that left two specific types of iron on the microbe’s surface while it lived. If future missions return samples of Martian rocks, this particular blend of irons could indicate living M. sedula relatives—alien life.
Second, after a hearty iron meal M. sedula poops out nickel sulfate as a byproduct. The presence of this byproduct marks ongoing microbial activity, which would signify an alien microbial hotbed. A Martian rover could be on the lookout for such compounds and use them to find Martian life. “Where there is a concentrated area of nickel,” Milojevic says, “it might be interesting to explore further.”
Finally, the researchers considered what kinds of microfossils the microbe would leave behind. Passively replacing bone with rock as with traditional fossils takes millions of years, but these mineral-munching microbes become what they eat in a matter of weeks. M. sedula accumulates metals in its cell membrane, and after it dies it leaves behind a crusty donut-shaped shell of particular metals and other elements. “They are eating stones and they become stones over the course of their lifetime,” Milojevic says. These hardened envelopes could represent a nearly sure sign of past life on a Mars rock or meteorite, if they can withstand the passage of time.
Now that she knows how the microbes can get by on only extraterrestrial materials, Milojevic would like to see whether they can survive in extraterrestrial environments, perhaps by exposing them to the ravages of space outside the International Space Station. But really, she’ll be biding her time until she can get her hands on some pristine Martian rocks for examination, ready to do some extraterrestrial micro-paleontology. “I think I know everything I need,” she says.
Scientists Have Officially Found a Mineral Never Before Seen in Nature .
It was found along the side of a road in a remote Australian gold rush town. In the old days, Wedderburn was a hotspot for prospectors – it occasionally still is – but nobody there had ever seen a nugget quite like this one.The Wedderburn meteorite, found just north-east of the town in 1951, was a small 210-gram chunk of strange-looking space rock that fell out of the sky. For decades, scientists have been trying to decipher its secrets, and researchers just decoded another.