Forget the bug-eyed green aliens with advanced technology. Life on other planets may exist in forms too tiny to see, if mysterious tiny organisms like those found under our oceans live elsewhere.
Scientists have discovered bacteria living in 86 million-year-old red clay under the ocean floor, cut off from sunlight and all other life, that may be subsisting on the minimum bit of energy required to sustain life. They use up oxygen extremely slowly, and are still recycling material that fell from the ocean's surface millions of years ago.
"If you wanted to look for life for another planet, I think this is a really good bet," said Hans Røy, biologist at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark. Røy is the lead author of a new study about the bacteria that appears in the journal Science.
"This is a composite of a series of images photographed from a mounted camera on the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, from approximately 240 miles above Earth. Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit said of the about photographic techniques used to achieve the images: "My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure." A total of 18 images photographed by the astronaut-monitored stationary camera were combined to create this composite."Source: NASA