On Thursday, December 2, 2010, NASA held a press conference to announce the discovery of GFAJ-1, a new life form. GFAJ-1 is a rod shaped extremophile bacterium that can use arsenic, rather than phosphorus, to build its DNA, RNA, cell membranes, and proteins. GFAJ-1 is unlike any other living organism on planet Earth and could mean that life can form where phosphorus is unavailable anywhere throughout the universe.
NASA astrobiologist Felissa Wolf-Simon discovered in Menlo Park, California last year. Of her discovery, Wolf-Simon offered during today's press event: "some microbes can breathe arsenic, but what we've found is a microbe doing something new-building parts of itself out of arsenic."
NASA officials stated that Ms. Wolf-Simon's discovery is the end of "life as we do not know it" with NASA's Ed Weiler offering "The definition of life has just expanded." Many are hopeful that the discovery of GFAJ-1 could very well mark the beginning steps to uncovering life on other planets.