The survival of “Alien” life can be different! Recently, there has been a trailblazing exploration into the possibility of life on Earth under extreme conditions. The focus was on the remote habitat of Antarctica far down South. It was revealed that soil of this freezing cold continent is practically crawling with bacteria thriving on just hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon-di-oxide in a very low exposure to sunlight, with almost nothing available to feed on.
Scientists from Australia’s University of New South Wales have come up with this startling finding published in Nature Journal. Microbes with the ability to survive in extreme conditions known as “Extremophiles”. They are often referred by scientists while seeking an explanation for this extraordinary survival.
According to professor Belinda Ferrari, the lead author in the study research, this recent discovery has certainly opened up new possibilities of exploring the existence of ‘alien’ life in other planets surviving on traces of atmospheric gases based on a new ecosystem devoid of oxygen, light and water – the normal living conditions observed on the planet Earth.
Alien searching – a step ahead:
The above finding has certainly re-conceptualized the living conditions of an organism. The research team regenerated the genomes of 23 microbes and had been successful in tracing 2 species of previously unknown bacteria known as WPS- 2 and AD3.
These bacteria dwelled in the deep soil where sunlight could not penetrate. They thrived well where there was an absence of geothermal energy and practically fed on air as a source of nutrition. The above citations show how little we know about life forms and the environment in which they survive. However, the more we know of life on earth, the better we are prepared to comprehend the existence of aliens in outer space.
Alien hunt with Icefin:
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Hunting for alien life in outer space was never an easy task. Very recently, Britney Schmidt, a Georgia Tech researcher, and her team had been to Antarctica on an expedition in search of life. The team spent three months, employing a drone called ‘Icefin’ that would search what lies beneath the thick sheet of ice covering the ocean.
The robot machine would hover over the icy cold water, probing through small holes drilled into ice and see if life exists down there. Equipped with sensors, Icefin can locate the presence of life and measure environmental parameters such as the existence of dissolved oxygen and acidity in water along with the other elements required to support life in such hostile conditions in the icy cold ocean. The drone is however scheduled for a more ambitious project by 2030 and the scientists fondly call the future expedition the ‘ big hunt’.
It is Schmidt’s wildest dreams to be the first one ever to drop a device under Ross Ice Shelf. Despite all adverse weather conditions, Icefin had been successful in its mission. What it brought out was simply incredible! Strange feathery entities were found lying afloat on the ocean! They were awaiting the probing eyes of human scientists once the data from ocean floor was transmitted to workstations.
A journey to the freezing waters of Europa, the moon of Jupiter, is in the pipeline:
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Antarctica’s expedition has just done something that will certainly be a supporting experience in this direction with chances of more inhospitable settings awaiting, once the device drops into Europa. The investigation would be under a completely unknown icy ambience around 400 million miles away from earth and what may come up at the end gives goosebumps to the scientific research communities.
Now that Schmidt’s mission focused on a quest for the existence of life in the darkest and dankest of abysmal depths, hit upon creatures previously unknown; Jupiter’s expedition gets a further shot of stimulus. There is every possibility that Europa can offer an environment that could sustain primitive life forms. It is only a matter of time – let’s wait and watch.