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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 20

Conference Focuses on Life in Space

From: Rebbeca <RSchatte@aol.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 21:17:55 EDT
Fwd Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 22:57:18 -0400
Subject: Conference Focuses on Life in Space

Subject: Conference Focuses on Life in Space
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 21:14:41 EDT

Conference Focuses on Life in Space

.c The Associated Press

 By CATALINA ORTIZ

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) - For a long time, scientists
speculated that life existed beyond the Earth. In recent years,
they discovered evidence that it might and developed better
tools for the search.

Now, they're ready to start looking.

Scientists gathered at NASA Ames Research Center on Monday to
begin drawing up an astrobiological 'roadmap', the first step in
deciding where and how they should seek Earth-like planets where
life may have evolved.

A three-day conference will examine the biological basis for
distant life, technological challenges in detecting it and
possible missions - based on Earth or in space - to find it.
Participants hope to reach consensus and draw up a report in the
next couple of months.

"The workshop is being held to identify the exciting
opportunities to bring space technology to bear on the
fundamental question about the origin, evolution and future of
life", said NASA astronomer David Morrison, co-chair of the
event.

"We believe astrobiology asks questions which we are now able to
answer - or try to answer", he said.

More than 100 scientists are taking part in the workshop.

Fueling scientists' desire for the quest are a number of
discoveries in recent years. For instance, researchers have
found that life on Earth can exist under extreme conditions - in
blocks of Antarctic ice, in hot springs, inside rocks. If
microbes can live there, perhaps they could live on seemingly
dead planets.

Data from the Galileo spacecraft detected signs of water under
the surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Another discovery
exciting astrobiologists are possible fossils of bacteria inside
a Mars rock, although that finding is in dispute.

"Together they make an amazing statement - life may not be
uncommon", said NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin, who addressed
the audience via videotape. "We may not be alone"

Causing the most excitement, however, is the discovery of
planets beyond our own solar system. Scientists believe some, if
they meet the right conditions, could foster life.

Such planets would have to be in what researchers call the
"habitable zone", of a certain size orbiting a star like our sun
in an Earth-like orbit. Without those conditions, liquid water -
considered essential for life - could not exist.

AP-NY-07-20-98 2109EDT

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.