Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ross 154, astrobiological expedition to Mars and shortlist of stellar candidates for habitable worlds

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - The dim star Ross 154 is the seventh closest to our Sun, lying at about 9.7 light-years away. Might it support habitable planets? See
g Abodes - The possibility that life may once have evolved on Mars is strongly linked to the availability of liquid water over long time periods. So what criteria would make a good site for an astrobiological expedition on that world? See
g Life - With cobalt waters harboring eerie, coral-like formations, this archipelago of lakes in Mexico’s searing Chihuahuan desert has always had an otherworldly appearance. Now, top NASA researchers say the calcified clumps of primitive bacteria lurking in its pools could provide important clues in their search for extraterrestrial life. See
g Intelligence - Researchers are aiming to learn more about how the Earth was populated by collecting and analyzing genetic samples from 100,000 people around the globe. See
. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Message - A U.S. astronomer has announced her shortlist of stars where extraterrestrial life might be found. See
. For related story, see “Shortlist of stellar candidates for habitable worlds” at
g Cosmicus - AKARI, the new Japanese infrared sky surveyor mission in which ESA is participating, saw ‘first light’ on April 13, 2006 and delivered its first images of the cosmos. The images were taken towards the end of a successful checkout of the spacecraft in orbit. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: Who Can Live Here? Students explore the limits of life on Earth to extend their beliefs about life to include its possibility on other worlds. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Arthur C. Clarke’s short story "No Morning After," anthologized in “Time to Come” (edited by August Derleth and published by Farrar, Starus & Young in 1954).
g Aftermath - If we establish communication with a civilization even as close as 100 light years from Earth, the round-trip time for a message and its reply is 200 years. What will be the psychology of a civilization that can engage in a meaningful conversation with this sort of delay? How is such a conversation to be established? What should the content of such a conversation be? These are the questions which motivate this article’s title: "Minds and Millennia: The Psychology of Interstellar Communication." See http://web.archive.