Saturday, April 22, 2006

Beta Pictoris dust disk, Martian geological history and bee speed

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - A combination of observing strategy and advanced technology has produced the most detailed picture yet of a dust disk surrounding a nearby star. Observations of the disk surrounding the star Beta Pictoris by a team of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Nagoya University and Hokkaido University suggest that asteroid and comet-like objects are colliding to produce fluffy icy dust-balls the size of bacteria. See article.
g Abodes - By mapping minerals on the surface of Mars using the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft, scientists have discovered the three ages of Martian geological history - as reported in the latest issue of Science - and found valuable clues as to where life might have developed. See article.
g Life - Bee speed is limited not by muscle power or how high they can flap their wings, but on how they balance themselves during unstable conditions, researchers have found. See article.
g Intelligence - Book alert: In an ongoing tour of literature related to astrobiology, Linda Sauter reviews "Collapse" by Jared Diamond. While not overtly about astrobiology, "Collapse" can provide insights about the likely development of life and civilizations in the universe. See article.
g Message - Since SETI first became a subject for serious scientific research, scientists have come up with many possible ways to detect the presence of other civilizations by searching our part of the galaxy for signs of artificially created signals. Using many different kinds of detection equipment and novel concepts, investigators labored away in their electronics laboratories and observatories dreaming, that one day, the signs they had been searching for would be found. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA announced that a small, “secondary payload” spacecraft, to be developed by a team at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., has been selected to travel to the moon to look for precious water ice at the lunar south pole in October 2008. See article.
g Learning - As a society, we're increasingly ignorant about science, and if that continues, it's going to cost us. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Hal Clement’s novel “Mission Of Gravity,” published by Doubleday in 1954.
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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