Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Martian water cycle, ‘Remote Sensing’ and ‘Consequences of Success in SETI’

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 - Images that indicate liquid water may have recently flowed on Mars are helping a fleet of robotic explorers focus their quest to understand the Martian water cycle. The potential for liquid water on Mars is vital in the search for past or present life on the planet's surface. See http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules
g Life - Sea urchins are small and spiny, they have no eyes and they eat kelp and algae. Still, the sea creature's genome is remarkably similar to humans' and may hold the key to preventing and curing several human diseases, according to a University of Central Florida researcher and several colleagues. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061207161037.htm.
g Message - Whatever form extraterrestrials take, why — if they exist — don’t they get in touch with us? See http://www.manilatimes.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Remote Sensing.” In this lesson, students discover how remote sensing is used to identify the signatures of life even when the particular life form is not directly observable. See http://btc.montana.edu/ceres/astrobiology
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Fredric Brown’s short story "The Waveries." It first appeared in the January 1945 issue of Astounding magazine.
g Aftermath - Here’s another “old” piece worth reading: “Consequences of Success in SETI: Lessons from the History of Science,” given during a Bioastronomy Symposium in 1993. See http://www.nidsci.org/articles/steve_dick.php.