Sunday, January 28, 2007

Asteroid 21-Lutetia’s clues to solar system’s origins, trophy skull and international discussion anticipating alien contact

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 - ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has caught its first glimpse of an asteroid it will be studying later during its primary mission. The asteroid 21-Lutetia is one target that may yield information about the origin of our Solar System. See
g Intelligence - A team of archaeologists and Earthwatch volunteers led by Mary Glowacki and Louis Tesar uncovered an elite Wari cemetery at Cotocotuyoc this past summer in Peru's Huaro Valley, near Cuzco. Among their finds was a "trophy skull," which offers insight into warfare in the Wari Empire based here from 1,500 to 1,000 years ago. See
g Message - When NASA's Voyager spacecraft left the boundaries our solar system in 2003, it carried a golden record with greetings from our civilization for posterity - or for eventual discovery by space archaeologists from another civilization. The golden record was a beacon to the future. The idea of our own civilization using its probes as surrogate representatives prompts the question: Can we probe for such beacons in our own solar system? See Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - NASA’s new goal of establishing a 21st century Moon base will require bridge building while mending fences between space scientists and exploration technologists. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “The Drake Equation.” Students estimate the number of civilizations in the galaxy by first estimating the number of craters on the Moon and then by performing estimates of multiple-variable systems culminating in the use of the Drake Equation. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Jeff Berkwits’ story "First Contact," which appeared in the August 1996 issue of “Keen!”
g Aftermath - If and when life is discovered beyond Earth, non-scientific dimensions may strongly influence decisions about the nature andscope of future missions and activities. It is appropriate to encourage international discussion and consideration of the issues prior to an event of such historical significance. See{B0D4BC0E-D59B-4CD0-9E79-113953A58644}/m_race_guidelines.pdf.