Monday, February 27, 2006

Planet-forming dust, return to Titan and moon particles

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 - NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has identified two huge "hypergiant" stars circled by monstrous disks of what might be planet-forming dust. The findings surprised astronomers because stars as big as these were thought to be inhospitable to planets. See article.
g Abodes - Cassini returns to Titan for the twelfth targeted flyby of Titan on today. See article. For related story, see “Rhea's wisps in color”.
g Life - Dinosaurs seem bigger than life – big bones, big mysteries. So it's a delicious irony that the next big answers about dinosaurs may come from small – very small – remains. See article. For related story, see “Scientists Argue over Dino-Bird Fossil Worth Millions”.
g Intelligence - Staying mentally and physically active throughout life is the best way to keep the mind sharp and reduce the risks of developing dementia, two recent studies show. See article.
g Message - Looking for life elsewhere is a tough task for human or robot. The good news is that the scientific skill and tools to search for, detect and inspect extraterrestrial life are advancing rapidly. See article.
g Cosmicus - As scientists and engineers figure out how to return astronauts to the Moon, set up habitats, and mine lunar soil to produce anything from building materials to rocket fuels, they are scratching their heads over what to do about Moon dust. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Moons of Jupiter”. In this lesson plan, students build model rovers to learn about engineering and evidence of alien life.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Karen Joy Fowler’s “Sarah Canary,” published by Henry Holt in 1991.
g Aftermath - A detection of extraterrestrial intelligence will profoundly effect all inhabitants of our planet. The scientific community has realized that the key to ensure a beneficial and rewarding encounter is education and preparation, and these two characteristics apply to many facets of a detection. See article.

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