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As the space program passes into commercial hands, how much money will there be for origin of life and life on other planets studies?

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Cauliflowers with chimney structures
Microbialite cauliflowers with chimney structures

Like this one, about microbialites:

In “Looking for the origins of life in a B.C. lake” (CBC News, Jul 30, 2011), Chris Chang-Yen Phillips, “NASA and the Canadian Space Agency see research implications for planetary exploration”:

The researchers are examining the origins of a specific and very ancient sedimentary formation formed by algae and a certain type of bacteria, in the process fine-turning exploratory techniques and clues that they feel might be useful on future space missions. 

“There are these rocks in the lake called microbialites that are built in some way by the bacteria living on the surface of the rock structure,” explains principal investigator Darlene Lim, a limnologist, or lake scientist, at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California.

From about 2.5 billion years ago until about 500 million years ago, microbialites were very common, and they remain among the earliest remnants of life on the planet.

As it happens, Pavilion Lake and Kelly Lake have an unusual amount and diversity of microbialites, in shapes ranging from artichoke-like to columns.

Vid. All this said:

There is currently much uncertainty in the U.S. about space exploration, particularly now that the shuttle program has ended.

Yes, the game changer. Maybe we are at the end of an era. Hereafter, crackpot cosmologies rule? Profs get fired in greater numbers for not believing  undemonstrable nonsense?

Well, an upside to non tax funded space exploration is that it won't cost you your tax money. Though, what this really means is that NASA will simply take on a larger role as a grant "clearinghouse" for a subset of citizen tax dollars (whether this tax dollar amount is equivalent to, greater than, or less than the current operating budget for NASA is debatable) and for a larger portion of its programming. I would imagine, that a for profit company wouldn't invest its money in programs that would not provide them with "spin-offs" or other profit generating opportunities. Thus, you will probably see a rise in more "practical" space adventures. There probably wouldn't be a huge number of "pure science" sort of missions, however. ciphertext
BA77: "OT: Special on Near Death Experiences on ABC television tonight:" ==== In 2008 I flew from Franfurt Germany on my way to San Francisco. We were at our crusing altitude of about 30,000'. Once a jet reaches that height, there are no usual right or left turns as the direction is pretty much locked into the autopilot. I was watching the scenery out the right side of my window seat as first Britain and then Ireland went by. Right about somewhere just south of Ireland, the pilot sped up the engines and did a quick left and then right turn, in fact we actually climbed a little more. I thought, that was strange since we well above the earth and on track as far as our course. I looked back out the window staring down at Ireland again and suddenly this AirFrance passenger jet fly crossways out from under us. It was so close, even though it was underneath us. I could see those other passengers. To me that would be a near death experience. Kind of like the term "Near Miss", which is nothing of the sort unless you had two planes actually crash into each other, then you'd have a near miss. Otherwise a near crash/hit might be more appropriate. Anyway, my experience is my understanding in the real world of near death experience. BTW, what does this have to do with the O.P. ??? Eocene
OT: Special on Near Death Experiences on ABC television tonight: On "Primetime Nightline: Beyond Belief" on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), ABC News' Bob Woodruff probes the mysteries of near death experiences and what people see, feel and hear when they describe crossing over from this world to the next - and return. http://abcmedianet.com/web/dnr/dispDNR.aspx?id=080111_20 bornagain77
Perhaps they should actually spend the money on just how the present life on planet Earth actually works and try restoring those ecosystems before others domino. At present, the misuse and abuse of science motivated by greed and selfishness is destroying the world around us. Here's a helpful tip. Keep Monsanto, Dupont and other chemcial and Bio-engineering companies away from it. Eocene

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