Rampant Speculation About NASA’s Forthcoming Astrobiology Announcement

Aliens

I don’t generally like to talk about NASA press conferences before they happen because I don’t want to promote baseless rumor-mongering. In this case, though, I feel I have to write something to prevent speculation! Here’s the scoop: NASA released the news that a press conference will be held on Thursday at 14:00 ET, saying that the conference will “discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.”
That, of course, set everyone speculating. The very popular news site Kottke.org actually has a decent line of evidence on the topic of the conference, though a sensational headline of “Has NASA discovered extraterrestrial life?” Gawker has a post up about this as well, and social networks like reddit have a lot of people talking, too. Other examples abound.
So what’s the press conference about? I don’t know, to be honest, beyond what’s in the announcement. The scientists on the panel are interesting, including noted astrobiologists and geologists who work on solar system objects like Mars and Titan. So this is most likely going to be something about conditions on another moon or planet conducive for life.
Of course, the speculation is that NASA will announce the discovery for life. Maybe. I can’t rule that out, but it seems really unlikely; I don’t think they would announce it in this way. It would’ve been under tighter wraps, or one thing. It’s more likely they’ve found a new way life can exist and that evidence for these conditions exists on other worlds. But without more info, I won’t speculate any farther than that.

Discover: Snowballing speculation over a NASA press conference

3 Comments

  1. http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/11/mediablogger-ex.html

    I seem to remember a similar kerfuffle a few months back. NASA has a lousy PR office, and our press has forgotten how to cover science stories.

    The NASA announcement is very clear that this will affect the search for extraterrestrial life, which sounds nothing like having found it.

  2. Was the press ever all that good at covering science?

    The Discover article above helps explain why this happens. I’m not sure how I’d fix it if I were running NASA’s PR. Maybe put an embargo on even discussing the press conference.

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