Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Planet-hunting satellite, microbial environments and ‘Wow!’ signal

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 - A small European satellite began its mission Wednesday to peer into the blinding light of nearby stars in an attempt to discover the first rocky planets outside our solar system. See article.
g Life - Scientists have identified an astonishing diversity of microbes living in the air we breathe, expanding our knowledge of the environments in which Earth's most prolific organisms can grow and survive. See
g Message - Veteran "Wow!" signal hunter Robert Gray recently turned south in his efforts to track down the elusive signal. In collaboration with the University of Tasmania, Gray used the 26-meter dish in Hobart, Tasmania, to record radio signals from the "Wow!" location for long hours at a time. See what they found at Wow2.html. Note: This article is from October 2002.
g Learning - Here’s a great resource for middle school science teachers: “Life on Other Planets in the Solar System.” See
g Imagining - Like stories about alien anthropology/cultures? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Rebecca Ore’s “Becoming Alien” (1988) and “Being Alien” (1989), which chronicle the adventures of the first Earth cadet in the galactic space corps.
g Aftermath - What if, one day, Earth was contacted by an extraterrestrial civilization? How, as a planet, would we respond to their offer to interact? What if they asked, “Do you have a method in place, or even a policy that outlines how Earth will proceed now that contact has happened?” Here’s an organization that we believes we need in place legal protocol and has proposed the “Extraterrestrial Contact Act.” See