Monday, November 13, 2006

Release of lunar gases, communicating with eyes and protocols guiding the activities of SETI scientists

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 - The infrared surveyor AKARI, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission with ESA participation, is nearing the completion of its first scan of the entire sky. During this phase of the mission, it has supplied the largest wavelength coverage of the Large Magellanic Cloud to date, and provided fascinating new images of this galaxy. See article.
g Abodes - Conventional wisdom suggests that the Earth's moon has seen no widespread volcanic activity for at least the last 3 billion years. Now, a fresh look at existing data points to much more recent release of lunar gasses. See
g Intelligence - Of all primates, human eyes are the most conspicuous; our eyes see, but they are also meant to be seen. Our colored irises float against backdrops of white and encircle black pupils. This color contrast is not found in the eyes of most apes. According to one idea, called the cooperative eye hypothesis, the distinctive features that help highlight our eyes evolved partly to help us follow each others' gazes when communicating or when cooperating with one another on tasks requiring close contact. See
g Message - Forget waiting for ET to call — the most likely place to find an alien message is in our DNA, according to an expert in Australia. See
134442. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - The Indian Space Research Agency has proposed starting a human spaceflight program, with the first manned flight taking place by 2014 leading up to landing an Indian national on the Moon by 2020, ahead of China. See
g Learning - In a lifetime devoted to instrumentation and rocket science, James Van Allen made immense contributions to the exploration of the space environment and its astrobiological potential. See
g Imagining - Could the legendary dragons of Pern from Anne McCaffrey’s famous science fiction novels actually exist? Welcome to the theoretical science of dracogenetics. See
g Aftermath - Scientists such as the SETI Institute’s John Billingham and Jill Tarter have taken the lead in planning for the day we might receive a signal from life beyond Earth. Working with diplomats and space lawyers, they have helped develop protocols that guide the activities of SETI scientists who think they may have detected extraterrestrial intelligence. See Note: This story is a couple of years old.