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Submission + - Is methane-based life the next big thing?

Randym writes: With the simultaneous announcement of a possible nitrogen-based cell-like structure allowing life outside the "liquid water zone" (but within a methane atmosphere) announced by researchers at Cornell and the mystery of *fluctuating* methane levels on Mars raising the possibility of methane-respiring life, there now exists the possibility of a whole new branch of the tree of life that does not rely on either carbon *or* oxygen respiration. We may find evidence of such life here on Earth down in the mantle where "traditional" life cannot survive, but where bacteria has evolved to live off hydrocarbons like methane and benzene.
Mars

Submission + - What has Curiosity found that is "earth-shaking"? (npr.org)

Randym writes: NASA scientists have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.

The exciting results are coming from an instrument in the rover called SAM. "We're getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting," says John Grotzinger. He's the principal investigator for the rover mission. SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) is a suite of instruments onboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Grotzinger says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something Earth-shaking. "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good," he says.

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