Saturday, January 27, 2007

COROT beings search for extrasolar planets, observations of Titan and will it be safe to answer?

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 COROT telescope has successfully opened its protective cover and began gazing at the stars. In February COROT will officially begin scientific observations, which include the search for extra-solar planets. See article.
g Abodes - Observations of Saturn's moon Titan from earth-based telescopes played a vital role in the successful decent of the Huygens probe through Titan's thick atmosphere in January of 2005. Two years later, these observations are continuing to inform scientists about one of the most unique destinations in the Solar System. See
. For related stories, see: “Psychedelic Saturn” at; “Shadows on Ice” at; and “Pan’s Progress” at
g Message - Here’s a neat radio interview on the program “Earth and Sky,” about scientists looking for evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth. See Note: The interview is from 2003.
g Cosmicus - In this op-ed, former astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin explains why "We should reach for the moon." See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: “Planets in a Bottle.” The lesson plan involves yeast experiments intended for 2nd through 4th grade students. See http://science.
g Imagining - Here’s a neat lesson plan, “Extraterrestrials,” in which students learn that a digital radio message has been electronically transmitted into space by the Arecibo radio dish in Puerto Rico and that the purpose of the message is to alert any intelligent life in space to the existence of intelligent life on Earth. See
g Aftermath - It’s a quite old news story (8 years!), but the issues raised remain relevant and greatly underexamined: If E.T. phones our home, will it be safe to answer? See