Monday, October 23, 2006

Venusian meteorology, microbes able to survive at below-freezing temperatures and trip to Mars

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 - Engineers are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for building a telescope that will find the nearest star-like objects and the brightest galaxies. NASA has approved the start of construction on a new mission called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which will scan the entire sky in infrared light. See article.
g Abodes - In its relentless probing of Venus's atmosphere, the European Space Agency's Venus Express keeps revealing new details of the Venusian cloud system. Meteorology at Venus is a complex matter, scientists say. See
g Life - Close-up images taken by an electron microscope reveal tiny one-cell organisms called halophiles and methanogens. Studies show these microbes can survive at below-freezing temperatures. See
g Cosmicus - A “worst-case” analysis shows that during a trip to and from Mars, astronauts would be exposed to levels of deadly radiation that are considered unacceptable by today’s standards. The danger arises from galactic cosmic radiation and the rare but dangerous storms of protons from the sun. See