NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth.
Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.
And then courtesy Yale astronomer Pieter van Dokkum:
A new study suggests that a specific kind of galaxy might hold 10 times more red dwarf stars than estimated. That would triple projections for the number of stars in the observable universe, with implications for explanations of how stars and galaxies form and evolve.
Life doesn’t require all six of the building blocks we thought. The very term ‘life’ takes on new meaning. And there might be three times as many star systems in the universe than we thought – and many times that of possible life-supporting planets, with our now vastly expanded definition of life.
Science is pretty cool when we actually do it.