Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NASA announces how we’ll return to Moon

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 - The Hubble Space Telescope has "caught" the Boomerang Nebula in a set of new images. This reflecting cloud of dust and gas has two nearly symmetric lobes of matter that are being ejected from a central star. Over the last 1,500 years, nearly one and a half times the mass of our Sun has been lost by the central star of the Boomerang Nebula in an ejection process known as a bipolar outflow. See article.
g Abodes - Saturn's moon Titan has long been a place of interest to astrobiologists, primarily because of its apparent similarities to the early Earth at the time life first started. A thick atmosphere composed primarily of nitrogen and abundant organic molecules (the ingredients of life as we know it) are among the important similarities between these two otherwise dissimilar planetary bodies. See article. For related story, see “NASA Cassini Radar Images Show Dramatic Shoreline on Titan”.
g Life - New research suggests that plant eaters may prefer to eat exotic species over domestic plants. The findings could lead to better strategies for controlling the billions of dollars in damage that invasive plants cause every year. See article.
g Intelligence - Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed tools for studying the chemistry of the brain, neuron by neuron. The analytical techniques can probe the spatial and temporal distribution of biologically important molecules, such as vitamin E, and explore the chemical messengers behind thought, memory and emotion. See article.
g Message - What is astroengineering, and how might it help us determine if alien civilizations exist? See entry. For related entry, see “Solar astroengineering”.
g Cosmicus - NASA has unveiled an ambitious blueprint for returning American astronauts to the moon by 2018 using new rockets based on shuttle propulsion technology and a new reusable crew vehicle Administrator Mike Griffin described as "Apollo on steroids." See article. For related stories, see: “NASA releases plans for next generation spacecraft”; “Lunar Flight Plan”; “NASA estimates moon rocket will cost $104 million”; and “Frequently Asked Questions”.
g Learning - Book alert: September is the time for school and the show of Sagittarius in the night sky. School has surprises but so does Sagittarius. Did you know that within the boundaries of this constellation there lies a galaxy that's about to get eaten up by our own Milky Way? Read the book Voyages to the Stars and Galaxies by Andrew Fraknoi, David Morrison, and Sidney Wolff to learn about the constellations, stars and their marvelously unique and sometimes hungry properties. Anthropic or not, you'll see that we're in one amazing universe. See reviews.
g Imagining - Here’s a neat Web site that examines the life cycle of the Alien — the extraterrestrial from said movie. It’s a little light on evolutionary speculation and discussing plausibility, but the life cycle is thoroughly described.
g Aftermath - Among scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, it’s quite common to be focused on the future, ever mindful that it could take years, or even decades, to find a signal from otherworldly intelligence. But if historian Steve Dick has his way, astronomers will also turn their attention toward the past as they search for life beyond Earth — to discover the aftereffects of contact between two intelligent cultures. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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