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

The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.