Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Earth-like Mars, silence on scientific interests and an orbiting hotel

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Molecules spewed outward from a dying star are confined into narrow jets by a tightly-wound magnetic field, according to astronomers who used the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array radio telescope to study an old star about 8,500 light-years from Earth. See http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.
g Abodes - A salty sea once washed over the plains of Mars at the Opportunity rover's landing site, creating a life-friendly environment more earthlike than any known on another world. See http://www.
. Note: This article is from 2004. For related story, see “Just in Time” at http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.phpop=modload&name=News&
g Life - Theorizing and model building are one thing; it is another to go out and get data that will support science and the acquisition of new knowledge. For this purpose, NASA has instituted its Astrobiology Program to study the origin, evolution, distribution, and destiny of life in the universe. Existing programs and new endeavors will be brought together in a multidisciplinary fashion to tackle the questions surrounding life's place in the organization of the universe. In so doing, NASA has adopted six canonical questions to use as guideposts as its programs are developed. See http://www.
. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Intelligence - More Americans are interested in science news and information than is commonly thought, a new study suggests. But not everyone wears the intrigue on his or her sleeves. In fact some people are downright silent about their scientific interests, perhaps not wanting to be perceived as nerds. See http://www.livescience
g Message - What are the chances that an alien signal has been sent our way just at the right moment to splash upon our antennas during that brief interval? If the extraterrestrials beam their broadcasts to the whole galaxy (or at least a big chunk of it), the chances are 100 percent. See http://space.com/searchforlife/060112_shostak_transmit.html.
g Cosmicus - From the economic point of view, building orbital accommodation has the great attraction that it will provide a large-scale commercial outlet for the know-how developed with the U.S. space station Skylab that operated from 1973-74, the two Russian stations Salyut and Mir, and the International Space Station being developed in the late 1990s. Many tens of billions of dollars have been and are being spent on these - but only one of each is ever built! So none of the manufacturers can make any money, and taxpayers have to pay for it all - but they never get to go! A truly crazy "lose-lose" situation! See http://www.spacefuture.com/habitat/businesscase.shtml.
g Learning - Are you a future SETI scientist? See http://www.
. Note: This article is from Feb. 2001.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Robert Heinlein’s novel “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel,” published by Scribners in 1958.
g Aftermath - If we hear from ET, not only can we expect his civilization to be an old one with a great time lag in correspondence, a SETI astronomer says. Could this limit the impact of extraterrestrial contact upon humanity? See http://www.space.
. Note: This article is from December 2001.