Ok, I’m really happy for Felisa Wolfe-Simon that she’s made a solid discovery so early in her career. I completely understand why NASA would make a huge deal out of the announcement, let’s face it, NASA hasn’t had a great decade and they need the positive press. The discovery itself is cool, an organism is able to use Arsenic instead of Phosphorous as part of the backbone of its DNA. This is a new discovery and one that does have an implication in the world of Astrobiology, it is the confirmation that life is not limited in the universe to the type of life that evolved on Earth. DUH!
We already knew this, we’ve found bacteria living in horrible conditions, tartigrades can survive being shot into space, deep ocean thermal vent communities 30 years ago challenged much about what we knew about what had to be the conditions for life to form. Don’t get me wrong, confirmation of this idea is a big discovery and very cool but we already knew this. No Astrobiologist or Biologist is surprised today folks, we already knew and believed what science fiction writers have been telling us for decades, hell maybe centuries, life finds a way and when we find it out there, it will be more diverse and amazing than anything we can imagine. So now let’s get to the business of finding it, how about a manned flight to Mars for a start.
If you’d like to read more about the discovery you can find it at the link below: