Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Martian desert varnish, Automated Transfer Vehicle and extraterrestrial ergonomics

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; Career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here’s today’s news:
g Abodes - New research reveals that the dark coating known as desert varnish creates a record of life around it, by binding traces of DNA, amino acids and other organic compounds to desert rocks. Samples of Martian desert varnish could therefore show whether there has been life on Mars at any stage over the last 4.5 billion years. See
g Cosmicus - Acoustic testing of Jules Verne, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), has successfully been completed at ESA's test facilities in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “Ergonomics For Extraterrestrials,” in which students develop an extraterrestrial life form, and to create a workstation that accommodates its unique characteristics. See