Thursday, April 06, 2006

Saturn’s rings, altruistic chimps and Optical SETI

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - The Swift satellite observations show that the Tempel 1 comet grew brighter and brighter in X-ray light after last year’s NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft impact, with the X-ray outburst lasting a total of 12 days. See article.
g Abodes - New observations of propeller-shaped disturbances in Saturn's A ring indicate the presence of four small, embedded moons - and most likely millions more. The discovery could lead to a better understanding of the origin and formation of Saturn's rings and the solar system as a whole. See article.
g Life - Infinitesimal clumps of bacteria cells gently falling into our atmosphere from 25 miles above the surface of the Earth could be the first recorded instance of a life form from outer space having arrived on our planet. See article.
g Intelligence - A new experiment indicates chimps can be altruistic, a quality many scientists thought only humans possessed. See article.
g Message - After 20 years of listening for signs of life elsewhere in the universe, The Planetary Society is now ready to watch the skies. On April 11, 2006, the Society will dedicate a brand new optical telescope at an observatory in Harvard, Massachusetts, designed solely to search for light signals from alien civilizations - a search known as Optical SETI. See article.
g Cosmicus - With Crew Exploration Vehicle proposals finally in hand, NASA is expected to decide by early fall whether it will be Lockheed Martin or the team of Northrop Grumman and Boeing that helps the U.S. space agency design and build the key element of its next human space transportation system. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Chores on the International Space Station”. Students discover what astronauts do to keep the station running – and who has to take out the trash.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Dean Wesley Smith’s short story "Ambassador to the Promised Land," anthologized in “First Contact” (edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff and published by DAW in 1997).
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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