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A Unique Science Expedition to Greenland

25 Aug 2019, 16:55 UTC
A Unique Science Expedition to Greenland
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Greenland from above, where the ice sheet is melting to form lakes and to expose rocks not visible for millennia. @Susan Oliver

It is my very good fortune to report that I have just arrived in Greenland for quite a scientific adventure.

Over the next days, a group of scientists (and me and NASA videographer Mike Toillion) will be traveling to the site of the stromatolite that might, or might not, be the oldest remains of life on Earth. In a 2016 Nature paper, it was described as having been fossilized about 3.7 billion years ago.

Another Nature paper two years later challenged the biological origins of the “fossil,” and the debate has been pretty vigorous since.

Vigorously debated putative stromatolite from the Isua Peninsula, Greenland.

We’ll be helicoptering about 100 miles northeast of the capital Nuuk to get to the Isua peninsula, where the oldest (or almost the oldest, depending on who you choose to follow) rock formations on Earth can be found. Three days and two nights on the ice, or what we hope is still ice. And then a day or more of scientific debate.

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