Monday, February 28, 2005

Saturn updates, Vision for Space Exploration and Fermi’s Paradox, Part II

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Stars – Scientists view Saturn and its ring/moon system as a miniature solar system during its early days. To better understand the origins of our solar system, we then might want to better understand what’s happening near Saturn today. While cruising around Saturn during the past few months, the space probe Cassini captured a series of images that have been composed into the largest, most detailed, global natural color view of Saturn and its rings ever made. See article. For other recent Saturn stories, see: "Treasures among Saturn’s rings, moons" and "24 surface features named on Saturn’s moon Phoebe".
g Abodes – Try to imagine this, a scene unwitnessed by any thinking being from our world, although it could play out every few weeks somewhere in the Milky Way: You are on the curdled, hot surface of a new-born world, an unknown cousin of Earth only a few millions of years old. The landscape is a sweltering, fulminating jumble of soft rock, as sterile as space itself. See article.
g Life – NASA and its partner organizations are studying the potential for life in such extreme zones to help understand the limitations of life on Earth and to prepare robotic probes and, eventually, human explorers to search other worlds for signs of life. That search is a key element of the Vision for Space Exploration. See article.
g Intelligence – Be sure to catch Tuesday’s episode of “Living Wild” on National Geographic cable channel. It explores social exchange in the Great Apes, revealing important clues about its evolution in our own species. The show specifically discusses a gorilla choosing a mate, chimpanzees playing political games and orangutans sharing food secrets. The hour-long program starts at 11 a.m. CST.
g Message – Fermi’s Paradox, Part II: Could galactic empires exist? In a previous article, we noted that there has been plenty of time for aliens keen on colonizing the Milky Way to pull it off. However, we see no signs of galactic federation ("Star Trek" aside). Why does the cosmos look so untouched and unconquered? What is keeping advanced extraterrestrials from claiming every star system in sight? See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus – We need to broaden our approach in the new Vision for Space Exploration to include the development of the Moon and its resources. In the end, commerce is not NASA’s job. However, NASA and the government as a whole must take into account the development imperative and its importance to humanity’s collective future. See article.
g Learning – There may be numerous intelligent civilizations on planets throughout our galaxy. That's the hypothesis driving SETI research. We seek evidence of extraterrestrial technology using optical and radio telescopes to search for signals that emanate from other civilized worlds. These places are far, far away. But, when discussing the search with school children, they often simply ask, "Why don't we just go there?" This can be a teachable moment. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Imagining – While science fiction has come a long way from the days of bug-eyed monsters, the genre still hasn't gone far enough in presenting well-conceived alien beings. As a derivative genre, role-playing games have an even poorer record. See article.

g Aftermath – If we encountered an intelligent species on another planet, could we understand them? In turn, could extrasolar species decipher one of our 8,000 terrestrial languages in use today? See article. Note: This article is from 2004.

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