Saturday, December 16, 2006

New model for Enceladus, alternatives to SETI and crafting a representative message to aliens

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 - Last year, the Cassini spacecraft discovered plumes of gas, water vapor and ice particles erupting from Saturn's moon Enceladus. At first, scientists thought it might indicate liquid water below the icy moon's surface, but now researchers have proposed an alternative model. See article.
g Message - On an episode of “The Space Show” last year, Scot Stride, a senior engineer at NASA JPL in Pasadena, Calif., was the guest for this Space Show program. Stride discussed SETI programs with us and highlighted his discussion with the SETI alternatives, SETV (Search for ET Visitation) and S3ETI (Solar System SETI). Stride provided listeners with a superb background and history on SETI, how it started and how it became what it is today. He also discussed the Allen Telescope Array and what it will mean for future SETI efforts. To hear a copy of the show, see
g Learning - Book alert for children: In "Looking for Life in the Universe," author Ellen Jackson and photographer Nic Bishop introduce readers to astrobiologist Jill Tarter and her thrilling, rigorous and awe-inspiring work in the field of SETI. Look for it at your local bookstore.
g Aftermath - If we find other civilizations, what will we say to them? Crafting a message that represents Earth and humanity and can be understood by another life form is no minor endeavor. SETI Institute psychologist Douglas Vakoch has been charged with this formidable task, and has enlisted the help of mathematicians, artists, astronomers and anthropologists. Hear the messages he helped compose and learn about the thinking behind them at