Has NASA Discovered Life On Saturn's Moon?S

This Thursday NASA is holding a press conference to discuss an astrobiology finding that will "impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life". Have we discovered alien life within our own solar system?

The opening sentence of the NASA media advisory that went out today regarding Thursday's press conference was enough to set the internet abuzz with speculation.

NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

What could the big announcement be? Chances are it has something to do with the recent discovery by the NASA-led international Cassini-Huygens mission of a tentative atmosphere containing both oxygen and carbon dioxide on the surface of Saturn's moon Rhea.

The oxygen in Rhea's atmosphere is five trillion times less dense than that of Earth, and the surface of the moon is far too cold to support life as we know it. That doesn't rule out life as we don't know it.

Participating in the press conference will be NASA astrobiology program head Mary Voytek; NASA astrobiology research fellow Felisa Wolfe-Simon; NASA astrobiologist Pamela Conrad; Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution fellow Steven Benner; and Arizona State University professor James Elser, whose research involves biological stoichiometry, the study of balance of energy and multiple chemical elements in living systems. That's not a group you gather together just to look at pretty space rocks.

So what does NASA have up its sleeve? The conference will be streamed online on Thursday at http://www.nasa.gov/. Until then, let the speculation fly!