Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Birth, life and death of massive stars and Europa mission missing in action

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 - New composite images of optical, radio, infrared, ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths are giving astronomers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a clearer picture of the birth, life and death of massive stars, and their effect on the gas and dust of the interstellar medium surrounding them. See article.
g Abodes - Glacial deposits near the equator on Mars are remnants of snow on the red planet long ago, scientists said. See article. For related story, see “Frozen sea on Mars linked to elevated methane”.
g Life - Dumb or brainy, fair or hideous, extraterrestrial life forms are often pictured by scientists and writers of science fiction as inhabiting worlds just the right distance from stars - neither too hot nor too cold. Rays of starlight in such temperate zones are seen as warming planetary surfaces and alien races, providing a ready source of energy and, most important, the right amount of heat to keep life-giving water from boiling away or turning into ice. But a quiet revolution is now challenging this view and shaking the foundations of exobiology, the study of the possibility of life elsewhere in the cosmos. See article. Note: This article is from 1997.
g Intelligence - Sleep deprivation impairs spatial learning, including remembering how to get to a new destination. And now scientists are beginning to understand how that happens: Learning spatial tasks increases the production of new cells in an area of the brain involved with spatial memory called the hippocampus. Sleep plays a part in helping those new brain cells survive. See article.
g Message - Here’s an article in which Dave DeBoer, project engineer for the Allen Telescope Array, discusses what the unique telescope will offer. The development of the Allen Telescope Array is marked by many innovations crafted with the express purpose of building a world-class state-of-the-art astronomical facility at a fraction of the price of existing radio telescopes. See article. Note: This article is from October 2003.
g Cosmicus - NASA’s newly issued budget has lowered a flagship mission of exploration to half-mast. Backed by scientists and study groups, a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa is missing in action within the pages of NASA’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget unveiled this week. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat set of classroom activities: Life On Other Planets in the Solar System. It examines the possibility of life on other planets in our own solar system and what form that life might take. Designed as a curriculum resource for middle and high school students. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read C.J. Cherryh’s novel “Foreigner,” published by DAW in 1994.
g Aftermath - The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is accelerating its pace and adopting fresh strategies. This increases the likelihood of successful detection in the near future. Humanity's first contact with alien intelligence will trigger extraordinary attention from the media, from government authorities, and from the general public. By improving our readiness for contact, especially for security during the first 30 days, we can avoid the most negative scenarios — and also enhance humanity's benefits from this first contact with an alien intelligence. Six potential problem areas include communicating with the media and the public, communicating with scientific colleagues, government control, an assassin or saboteur, well-meaning officials and lawsuits. See article.

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