MAY 12 2011 04:25h
Earth study to offer clues to alien life
In a 3-year, $2.4 million project funded by NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets program, Indiana University Bloomington scientists will study methane release near the receding edge of Arctic ice sheets for clues of how life might exist at the edge of extraterrestrial ice sheets, an IUB release reported Wednesday.
"In order to be prepared for robotic or human exploration of other habitable worlds, scientists and engineers need to thoroughly test instruments and exploration concepts in extreme environments on Earth," IUB biogeochemist Lisa Pratt said. "These environments mimic, in some ways, the places we expect to explore for evidence of extraterrestrial life."
Conditions that support life on Earth are the only point of reference for what's possible on Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa, and Saturn's moon Enceladus, the three bodies currently deemed most likely to harbor, or to have once harbored, life, the researchers said.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind., May 11 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they'll study methane production by cold-weather microbes on Earth to help NASA search for evidence of similar microbes elsewhere.