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UW scientists join the search for alien life


UNDATED (WSAU)   U-W Madison scientists are part of a national effort to find evidence of alien life. And despite what they tell us on “Star Trek,” space is not the “final frontier” for this project. Researchers are studying rocks on Earth which are up to three-and-a-half billion years old.

The scientists are looking for isotopes and elements which reveal possible evidence of alien life. Clark Johnson of the Wisconsin Astro-Biology Research Consortium says there are always stories hidden in rocks. And scientists must be clever enough to find the tools needed to quote, “interrogate those rocks to find what story they preserve.”

The project has spent $7-million of federal NASA funding over the last five years – and another five-year grant of the same amount kicked in last month. The consortium is made up of 50 staff members, post-doctoral fellows, and students from 24 institutions in five nations. U-W Madison has about 25 of those participants.