In our long history of searching for alien life forms, we have also held the firm belief that life cannot prosper in conditions different from that of Earth. Our belief has been that in order for living organisms to exist, they need water, oxygen, and other gases that are found on Earth.
However, an experiment has proved otherwise.
Now, scientists can include several more types of environments in their search for alien life.
But let’s first find out what this experiment actually uncovered.
WHAT DID SCIENTISTS DISCOVER ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF ALIEN LIFE FORMS?
Sara Seager of MIT (SN: 10/4/19) conducted an experiment with her colleagues to test the environments in which yeast and E. coli could survive.
They placed both organisms in 6 small bottles with some nutrient broth. Then, they replaced the air in each of the bottles with a different gas compound.
Some bottles were filled with pure hydrogen gas, pure helium gas or a mixture of 80% nitrogen and 20% carbon dioxide. The last set of bottles was filled with air from Earth.
The microbes had replicated in every atmosphere tested, thriving most in ordinary Earth air.
Moreover, E. coli produced gases that could be proof of life, if found in other planets’ atmospheres.
“Knowing which gases can be produced by life is a necessary first step towards vetting them as possible detectable biosignatures on an exoplanet,” said Giada Arney. Even though Arney was not involved in the experiment, she is an astrobiologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Sara Reager said –
“We’re trying to expand people’s view of what should be considered a habitable planet. It seems to increase our chances that we may find life elsewhere.”
Their findings were published in Nature Astronomy on May 4th. Nature Astronomy is a peer-reviewed, scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.