Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scientist Startled By Possibility of Deep Earth Life

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Possibility of widespread ‘deep-Earth life’ jolts scientists

What if Earth hosts another ‘biosphere’ of tiny microbial organisms deep below the surface?

When we think of life on Earth, we usually picture blue oceans, green forests and the big animals that live in both.

But what if Earth hosts another “biosphere” of tiny microbial organisms deep below the surface? And what if extraterrestrial life looks more like this deep, dark world than the sunny blue-green one we are familiar with?

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, research led by University of Toronto geoscientist Barbara Sherwood Lollar demonstrates that the environment that could host “deep-Earth life” is far vaster than previously imagined.

And the possibility that we could find the same thing on other planets received an electric jolt Tuesday with the announcement that NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover had detected a plume of methane on the red planet that spiked and then dissipated — a potential signal of microbial life.

“It’s a critical reminder that the oceans and rivers and lakes on Earth give us a skewed view of the places where life could exist and evolve in another setting or another planet,” said Lisa Pratt, a geochemist at Indiana University who was not involved in either paper. Pratt chairs the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, a community of scientists that advises NASA.

Both papers, Pratt says, suggest that “we better start looking for something that’s different than the common, ordinary, cellular life we’re used to seeing and studying on Earth.”

Sherwood Lollar’s announcement follows on two tantalizing pieces of research published in recent years.

In 2006, she and Pratt were among the co-authors of a Science paper that announced the discovery of bacteria living deep in a South African gold mine, completely isolated from sunlight — the fuel source for all of life on the surface of Earth. These microbes likely derived their energy from hydrogen gas produced by reactions between water and the surrounding rock — and they were estimated to have survived down there for between 3 million and 25 million years.

Then, last year, Sherwood Lollar was part of a team that described a similar environment. In a mine in Timmins, Ont., the scientists analyzed water in a deep fracture with similar chemistry to the South African mine. The water in the Timmins mine was billions of years old. The team is still analyzing that site for the existence of microbial life.

So Sherwood Lollar was curious. “How many places in the planet might we find more?”

By combing through the literature and visiting sites around the world, she and her Nature co-authors found dozens more ancient rock sites with similar chemistry, doubling previous estimates of the amount of energy available to deep life from water-rock reactions.

“Much more of the planet is actually potentially hospitable for deep life than we thought,” said Sherwood Lollar.

“It’s fantastic. I think it’s really, really exciting stuff,” says Jan Amend, a geochemist at the University of Southern California who was not involved in the research.

“If somebody told you all of a sudden that you had twice as much money in the bank as you thought you had, that would put a smile on your face,” he said. “That analogy works for microbiologists especially, because a lot of microorganisms use hydrogen as an energy source.”

Sherwood Lollar will present the findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting currently underway in San Francisco. That was where NASA scientists on Tuesday announced that the Mars rover had detected a tenfold spike in methane near the Gale Crater over the course of two months. Because the gas wouldn’t last long in the Martian atmosphere, something must have produced it recently and nearby.

The rover scientists acknowledged that one potential source is subsurface microbial life that releases methane as a waste product. But it also could have been produced through inorganic chemical reactions, and Mars has dashed our hopes as a host for life before.

But both papers will certainly spark a renewed interest in deep subsurface biospheres.

“Essentially what this says is that the subsurface of our entire planet is likely a feasible place for life to take hold,” said Sherwood Lollar. “So when we think about how much of our planet is alive, we are no longer thinking about just a thin veneer on the surface.”

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:

Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:

Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.



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What time is Around the World?


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NGC - UFO's in EUROPE (Porugal included)

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