microbiology and where we can find life

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There’s a few spots mentioned over and over again when people think about the potential of extraterrestrial microbial life in our solar system, they base their hopes on the presence of liquid water.

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Mars: Evidence of historic lakes or oceans, more currently the possibility of briny lakes at the south pole, which might be comparable to the lake under antarctic ice. Mars also has sporadic methane releases, though their origin might be purely geological.
Europa: This ice covered moon of Jupiter, has strong evidence of liquid water below the ice, as plumes of water arise occasionally.
Enceladus: An ice covered moon of Saturn, that has apparent vulcanism, and some of the major elements of life on earth.
More recently, Venus, with the evidence of phosphine gas in the atmosphere. Though the surface seems incompatible with any terrestrial known life, the atmosphere might allow for it.
Titan, though there’s no liquid water evident, there may be methane lakes that support entirely different kinds of life.
In 300-800 words, with at least one reference from a research article

Describe the best evidence for the possibility of life in one of these situations. Find analogies to terrestrial environments that match some of the characteristics of extraterrestrial environments, because these could give you an idea of what is possible on earth. Places that are salty, and support halophiles, acidic/alkaline environments that support acidophiles and alkaliphiles, temperature ranges that support cold loving organisms, the psychrophiles, the temperate climates that support mesophiles, or hot environments that support thermophiles and hyperthermophiles. What are some characteristics of the methane producing organisms (the methanogens) or organisms with physiologies that make phosphine, or phoshpine-like, molecules. You don’t need to find examples of all of these, but focus in on one or two characteristics. Use references to support your arguments. A single short quote from references will be allowed, everything else must be your own words.
Next speculate on what you would advocate belongs on a robotic or crewed mission to one of these locations. Start by describing WHY collecting samples aseptically from a location of your choice is important, and then what you might want to do next, would you focus on microscopy, culturing, or molecular techniques like PCR and sequencing to detect life, or something else entirely. You might want to examine other exobiology experiments to use as a guide the Viking Lander missions could serve as one example. Finally, speculate that if your experiments were successful at detecting life and if the organisms you observe are similar to terrestrial organisms, would this be an encouraging or discouraging result?
Any information that is not common knowledge needs to be cited in the references section. Neither the citations nor the biography count in the word count.

All the information that is not your own needs to be cited.
You need to cite the information in the text after the sentence where the information appears.
All citations will be in the AMA style. (Links to an external site.)
References for organisms’ characteristics need to be from reputable sources. Reputable sources are usually written or reviewed by experts in the field.
Places to find Great Sources
pubmed
google scholar (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)
UMD Libraries
information in standard biology and microbiology textbooks.
Information put out by governments (.gov) are acceptable as well.
Unacceptable Sources
Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information (Links to an external site.) when looking to cite information by experts, but often Wikipedia pages will have links to sources you could use.
Other wiki or crowd sourced sources are not acceptable.
MicrobeWikii https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/MicrobeWiki (Links to an external site.) is not an acceptable source.
Simply being located on a school’s server (.edu) does not automatically make it a great source of information. Many classes have publicly accessible websites for their classes that contain factual information, however, even if the text and images are their own creation, the authors of those pages are usually citing other sources for their information.
Sources that might be acceptable, but you should exercise caution.
Research faculty posting information about their research on their personal or laboratory pages may be useful to you, although the research they are presenting there is probably found in peer reviewed journals.
Advocacy groups (.org) might also have factual information about organisms on their websites, however, you should double check the authorship and review of the material found there.
Unless the information is coming from a very credible source, be highly suspicious of science information from .com sites for your work in the class. Unless you can determine that the information was in fact written by experts, the information there will be regarded as suspect.
The grader reserves the right to declare any source unacceptable. This will result in points deducted from the assignment.
Use a citation manger to organize your citations. (Links to an external site.)You are responsible for making sure the citations you generate are not only in the proper format, but also point to the actual reference you intend them to. Use your citation manger early and often to keep track of the material you look up. Google may have added a citation manager built into google docs. (Links to an external site.)

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