Thursday, November 09, 2006

Brightest known image of a galaxy from the early universe, Venus Express sending back data and shuttle launch

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 - A team from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has announced discovery of the brightest known image of a galaxy from the early universe. While furious star formation makes the galaxy luminous, it enters the record books because the gravity of a foreground galaxy acts as a natural telescope, focusing its light on the earth. See article.
g Abodes - One year after its launch on Nov. 9, 2005, and a few months into its science phase, ESA's Venus Express keeps working well and continues to gather lots of data about the hot and noxious atmosphere of the planet. Newly released images show additional details of the thick cloud deck that surrounds Venus. See
g Life - If the loss of marine species from over fishing and climate change continues at the current rate, all commercial fish and seafood species could collapse by 2048, scientists report. See
g Intelligence - Early human ancestors chowed down on more than fruits and leaves, a new study finds. They also fed on grasses, roots, and grazing animals as early as a million years ago. See
g Cosmicus - Shuttle Discovery journeyed to launch pad 39B Thursday to begin final preparations for its nighttime blastoff Dec. 7 on a delicate space station re-wiring mission. NASA managers considered moving launch up an additional day, to Dec. 6, but ruled that out based on time needed to complete crew training and to develop software intended to prevent damage to the station's new solar arrays. See