6. Alien Life May Be "Weirder" Than Scientists Think, Report Says
(originally posted July 6, 2007)
An artist's rendering depicts the NASA/ESA Huygens probe floating in a lake of methane on Saturn
's moon Titan.
A report issued on July 6 by the National Academy of Sciences said that extraterrestrial organisms might be even more bizarre than experts had previously predicted.
The report concluded that scientists need to consider an expanded list of characteristics that define life, including so-called "weird" life-forms that may thrive where Earth organisms couldn't.
And Titan, the authors noted, is the best bet for finding odd life-forms that can thrive in extreme environments.
"It's a carbon world, so there's plenty of different kinds of carbon compounds there, and the possibility is that there may be the carbon compounds that make up life," said John Baross, an oceanographer at Seattle's University of Washington, who lead the report team.
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by John Roach.
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Image by Gregor Kervina, courtesy NASA/JPL