NASA Next Generation Space Shuttle



Have you ever wondered what may be the purpose of the moon? Well, the moon is the shiny beacon that lights up the night as the sun lights up the day. This amber body is quite shy and doesn't always show itself, but when it does, the moon's brilliance overpowers the darkness. The surface of the moon inspires astronomers around the globe who religiously watch as our incandescent orb passes serenely through its natural cycle, but if you are an avid planet observer you will come to realise that the reflecting light from the moon through the telescope lens may interfere with your ability to clearly view even our closest planets. For this reason many planet watches believe the new moon cycle is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of another world. There is a bizarre rocky landscape, well hidden from our prying eyes, in the secretive shadows under the oceans of our Earth. Here, in this strange and alien domain, it is always as dark as midnight. Thin, tall towers of craggy rock emit billows of black smoke from their peaks, while all around the towers stand a weird, wavy multitude of red-and-white, tube-like organisms--that have no eyes, no intestines, and no mouth. These 3-foot-long tubeworms derive their energy from Earth itself, and not from the light of our nearby Sun--a feat that most biologists did not believe possible until these wormish creatures were discovered back in 2001. The extremely hot, superheated black water, billowing out from the hydrothermal vents erupting on Earth's seafloor, provides high-energy chemicals that sustain the tubeworms, as well as other weird organisms that apparently thrive in this very improbable habitat. "This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment. These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA's science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not," commented Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen in an April 13, 2017 NASA Press Release. Dr. Zurbuchen is associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington D.C.