NASA has discovered a new life form that can grow by substituting arsenic for phosphorus, redefining the agency’s search for different life forms other than the ones known on Earth.
The discovery was made by astrobiologists who performed tests by taking mud from Mono Lake -- a body of water in Northern California three times as salty as the ocean -- which has high arsenic content, said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology research fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey, during a press conference Dec 2.
“(The microbe) is building itself out of arsenic, she said "All life we know is the same biochemically, and this is a little different. It is suggesting there is another way to be alive.”
Felisa Wolfe-Simon led researchers from eight federal and university laboratories conducting the experiment.’The researchers conceded that the odd microbes, in and of themselves, don't prove yet that there is a fundamentally different basis for life on Earth. "It is beginning to open the door a crack to possibilities," Wolfe-Simon said.