Aug 2011

The Countdown 8/11/2011


I missed yesterday, and there’s some big news to report.

3… Hydrogen: it’s what’s for dinner. A new Nature paper (and commentary ) by Petersen et al. explains the discovery of a new energy source (hydrogen) for symbiotic organisms living on oceanic vents. This is big news because it both expands the set of proven chemical sources for biological communities, and because it backs up theories on how the available energy for metabolism help define the biological possibilities in a particular environment…

2… Nucleobases, the building blocks of DNA, have been found on meteorites recovered from Antartica. If this work – to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – holds up, the work has profound implications for the origins of life on Earth and elsewhere. For more on this work and its importance, check out this great explanation on YouTube featuring one of the paper’s authors, Michael Callahan. Now there’s only one challenge left to this aspiring blogger: turning this into a Muppets-worthy headline. Nucleobases is way too long. Hmmmm… Geeeenes in spaaaace. That’ll do…

1… After a long, long, long journey… Opportunity has finally arrived at Endeavor crater! It’s hard to use words to summarize my feelings on this. One way to put it is that despite waiting for this moment for the last three years, it’s still a shock that the day finally arrived. A rover that was supposed to last for three months just finished a three-year journey. And the view alone has been worth the trip. This is an exciting, triumphant, breathtaking moment…. and that’s before the rover starts poking in and around the crater for scientific purposes. The plans are to look for chemical evidence for the past presence of water on Mars and building the most comprehensive geological (areological) cross-section of Mars by examining the crater’s outcrops. I still don’t think I’ve captured this well, so I recommend you check out “The Road to Endeavor Blog” which has covered this journey since December 4, 2008. That’ll give you a better sense of the truly epic nature of this accomplishment…


S. Domagal-Goldman Posted by
S. Domagal-Goldman
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  • http://www.nevernowwhen.net Audrea Bierman

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