Sunday, January 08, 2006

Saturn’s moons update, top astrobiology stories of 2005 and ’What’s Out There’

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 -In November 2005, CONDOR, the CO N+ Deuterium Observation Receiver, opened its eye to the universe for the first time. CONDOR was installed at APEX (Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment) in the Chilean Andes and detected hot gas in the vicinity of young massive stars from radiation at the extremely high radio frequency of 1.5 terahertz (i.e. 1.5 million million Hertz). The CONDOR detections are the first THz-frequency observations acquired with a large telescope (12 m diameter). The observations reveal several surprises, and the expectation that THz astronomy would yield valuable scientific results has been met. See article.
g Abodes - With its thick, distended atmosphere, Titan's orange globe shines softly, encircled by a thin halo of purple light-scattering haze. See article.
g Life - Simple life forms are turning up in a surprising variety of below-ground environments, potentially making up 50 percent of the Earth's biomass. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Intelligence - A huge battle destroyed one of the world's earliest cities at around 3500 B.C. and left behind, preserved in their places, artifacts from daily life in an urban settlement in upper Mesopotamia, according to a joint announcement from the University of Chicago and the Department of Antiquities in Syria. See article.
g Message - The search for extraterrestrial visitation is motivated not only by the writings of other authors on the subject of interstellar probes, but also by the awareness of the progression of our own probe technology. Included in this awareness are Earth's advancements in communication technology, growing understanding of exobiology and ongoing research of new possibilities to enable travel across vast distances. See article.
g Cosmicus - Regular tourist trips into space are still a thing of the future, but the government is getting ready for the eventual liftoff. See article.
g Learning - Astrobiology Magazine compiled its list of top ten stories for 2005. Exploration of Mars and Saturn was among the highlights in a review of astrobiology advances over the last 12 months in our own solar system and beyond. See article.
g Imagining - Book alert: In our current cultural fascination with the idea of alien beings from other worlds, most of it hokey at best and just plain wrong at worst, there is a definite need for some popular-level literature which helps to sort the rational wheat from the pseudoscience and Hollywood chaff. The SETI Institute’s Seth Shostak has created such a book. Titled “Sharing the Universe,” Shostak gives a comprehensive and most readable survey of what we do (and especially do not) know about life beyond the planet Earth, and how we are going about searching for our fellow inhabitants of the universe. See article. Note: this article is from 1998.
g Aftermath - The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence cannot guarantee success in a trivial, superficial sense (that is in the form of the discovery of an alien civilization). But at its deeper levels SETI certainly stimulates and influences our thoughts and transforms our society in profound ways. See article.

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