NASA is expected to make an announcement Thursday (Dec. 2) about a new scientific finding that "will impact the search for extraterrestrial life," the space agency said in a statement.

NASA has scheduled a press conference for Thursday at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Agency officials said the discovery is in the field of astrobiology, which is the study of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe.

The press conference will be broadcast and webcast live on NASA TV. SPACE.com's NASA TV feed is available here.

Participating in the press conference will be:

  • Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.
  • Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville, Fla.
  • James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe

The results will also be published in a paper in the journal Science at 2 p.m. Thursday, according to NASA officials.

The announcement comes closely on the heels of several other major milestones in the search for life and possible habitable environments beyond Earth.

In late September, for example, researchers announced the discovery of the first potentially habitable alien planet. And less than two weeks ago, astronomers discovered the 500th planet beyond our own solar system.

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