Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Early galaxies, hot planets and Lunar Lander Challenge

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 Stars - Early galaxies from the universe’s distant past grew up much faster than astronomers anticipated, according to a new study in the current issue of Astrophysical Journal. See http://www.space.
g Abodes - A team of UK, French and Swiss astronomers has discovered two new Jupiter-sized planets around stars in the constellations of Andromeda and Delphinus. They are among the hottest planets yet discovered. Their atmospheres are slowly being whipped away into space by the searing radiation from their parent stars. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060926080308.htm.
g Life - During an expedition off the South American coast, an international team of ocean scientists discovered that the gases ethane and propane are being produced by microorganisms in deeply buried sediments. The findings suggest that microbes below the seafloor carry out processes that are highly relevant to both our understanding of global cycles and the metabolic abilities of microbes. See http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.phpop
g Cosmicus - The future will take to the skies over New Mexico next month as teams compete in the Lunar Lander Challenge sponsored by NASA under their Centennial Challenges program. See http://www.space.com/includes/iab.html?url=/spacewatch/060922_night_sky.html.
g Learning - It's an exciting time for educators and students. Before the end of the next decade, NASA astronauts will return to the moon. This time, they're planning to stay - building outposts and paving the way for eventual journeys to Mars and beyond. Today's students will be tomorrow's explorers. How will space exploration benefit their lives in the future? That's the question asked by a new NASA competition for students ages 11-18. The first NASA 21st Century Explorer Podcast Competition challenges students to create unique audio and video podcasts. The topic: How will space exploration benefit your life in the future? See http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=20906.