Milky Way may be home to more than we know given expansive extraterrestrial living conditions
By Jim Algar
Life can exist in what were previously thought to be impossible environmental conditions, meaning life on other planets in our solar system and beyond could be more widespread than earlier believed, scientists say.
NASA scientist Christopher McKay has published a paper that includes an expanded checklist of possibilities that life could exist on distant planets or moons.
Studies on Earth have suggested not all forms of life require the conditions we most commonly experience around us, McKay says, and some are able to survive and even thrive while living in extreme conditions.
Since we have had to expand our consideration of the existence of such extreme life forms in extreme condition on Earth, it is logical to do the same for other, more distant places as well, he says.
For example, he says, because some Earthly microorganisms survive in environments consistently above the boiling point or below freezing, the search for extraterrestrial life shouldn't rule out any planets simply because they're too hold or too cold.
Nor should we rule out a planet because it's too far from its star for light as an energy source to reach potential life, he says, since some creatures on Earth live so deep in the sea that sunlight never reaches them. . . .
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