What's Up with Arsenic in Deep Space?

For Immediate Release
December 02, 2010

Mat Kaplan
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

NASA's announcement today of the discovery of bacteria from Mono Lake, California, that can use arsenic in its body instead of being poisoned by it, is significant to the search for life on other worlds. Not only do these organisms live in an extreme environment -- but they are also an extreme life form.

If we can find such an extreme combination on Earth, what may have evolved in alien environments elsewhere?

Bill Nye, the Planetary Society's Executive Director, said:

"If you or I ingest arsenic, well... it doesn't go so well. So, if we can discover arsenic-loving bacteria right under our noses in such a well-researched place as Mono Lake, who knows what else is out there, on our world or somewhere far, far away?"

Read more from Bill in "Arsenic and Deep Space?" on our website.

Bill and other representatives of the Planetary Society are available today for interviews.

About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit www.planetary.org.