Monday, October 16, 2006

Mars’ geologic eras, shuttle launch dates for 2007and first contact’s effect on religion

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 - Mars Express has provided the most detailed map to date of Mars’ mineralogy and has answered some longstanding questions. Based on this new information, a group of European scientists has proposed new names for the planet’s geologic eras. But not everyone agrees with the need for change. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA managers have proposed new launch dates for the first three shuttle missions of 2007. Planning dates for all remaining flights through the end of shuttle operations in 2010 also were updated based on preliminary launch processing assessments. While several near-term flights face delays due primarily to external tank deliveries and possible conflicts with Russian Soyuz launches, NASA still expects to meet its 2010 deadline for completing the station and retiring the shuttle. See
g Aftermath - Could religions survive contact with extraterrestrials? The Medieval Church didn't think so, as the discovery would challenge mankind's central role in the cosmos. Today such ideas are considered old fashioned, and many theologians welcome the discovery of life — even intelligent life — among the stars. But if scientists were to find microscopic Martians or a signal from another world, would established religions really take it in stride? For a discussion, check out this past program of SETI’s “Are We Alone?” at Note: An mp3 player is required to play the audio files; you can download one at the site for free.