Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Youngest exoplanet seen, Europa’s salty ocean and first contact’s effect on religion

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 - Located in the Lupus I (the Wolf) cloud, a region of star formation about 400-500 light-years away, a young T-Tauri star may be either a new planet or a failed star. Although the borderline between the two is still a matter of debate, one way to distinguish between them is by their mass. If a new observation of this object holds, GQ Lupi b would thus be the youngest and lightest exoplanet to have been imaged. See article.
g Abodes - Jupiter's moon Europa is thought to be one of the most likely abodes for microscopic life in our solar system. The discovery that Europa most likely has a cold, salty ocean beneath its frozen icy crust has put Europa on the short list of objects in our solar system that astrobiologists would like to study further. See article.
g Life - Book alert: As biological scientists learn more about how terrestrial life was formed, they increasingly turn to the stars to ask whether life might have evolved elsewhere. Thus far, despite a recent flurry of interest in Mars, they have found no solid evidence, but they keep looking. “Life on Other Worlds,” a scholarly book written by a historian at the U.S. Naval Observatory, examines the long development of that quest, along with some of the philosophical questions that have emerged from it. Steven J. Dick notes that our observational abilities are both limited and biased, and that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence forces us to examine some of our own assumptions about what constitutes life in the first place. See article.
g Intelligence - Do extraterrestrial civilizations exist? So far no others have been found, but this has not stopped scientific speculation. While the other planets of our solar system appear to be quite inhospitable, the past 25 years have seen many discussions about the possibilities for alien civilizations on planets around other stars. These discussions have frequently concluded that we are not unique; that there are many, perhaps millions, of other civilizations in our galaxy alone. However, in the last few years there has been a reaction against this belief. There are two independent lines of argument suggesting that there are very few technological civilizations in the galaxy, perhaps only one: our own. See article.
g Message - Scientists find it hard enough to pin down evidence of early life on our own planet. How on Earth do we plan to determine whether life exists elsewhere? See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - A test of an inflatable Earth orbiting module is slated for liftoff early next year, bankrolled by a go-it-alone, do-it-yourself entrepreneur keen on providing commercial space habitats for research and manufacturing, among other duties. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat teacher info source, courtesy of PBS: “Life on other Worlds: Our Solar System and Beyond.” See article.
g Imagining - Here’s a neat Web site: The Exorarium. At the Exorarium, visitors get a chance to mix and match the same ingredients that brought about human life, shaping their own unique intelligent life forms. For example, you might start with a hot or cool star, a heavy or light planet, one with lots of water or a desert world, and so on – until a unique ecosystem takes shape before your eyes … a family tree leading to the ultimate outcome, a species of intelligent life. See article.
g Aftermath - How will an alien visit influence the world’s religions? Here’s one common man’s view.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future