NASA. When the invites went out to the press they simply said that the event was "to discuss an astrobiology finding." This of course got everyone excited and wondering if the space agency had, at long last, discovered life on another planet.
Turns out that isn't what happened, but they did discover new life on this planet. What's the big deal you ask? After all, aren't we finding new species all the time? Yep, that's true, but in this case, NASA has reportedly discovered a new bacteria that uses arsenic as the basic building blocks of its DNA. This is counter to every thing we know about life on this planet, and opens up the possibilities for life exiting in much harsher environments in the Universe.
According to this story from tech blog Gizmodo, the new bacteria was found in Mono Lake, California, and it's discovery completely changes the way we think about biology. Every living creature on our planet, until now, has been made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. This finding shows that different elements can be used to create the building blocks of life, and that greatly opens up the chances of their being life on other planets as well.
We'll know a lot more this afternoon when the official announcement is made, but this is just another example of how amazing our planet really is. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. We really are just scratching the surface of what we know about this rock that we inhabit, let along the Universe as a whole. Just think about all the wonders that are still out there, waiting for us to discover them.