Saturday, January 13, 2007

Martian geology, broadened search strategy for ET and how proof of extraterrestrial intelligence affect humanity’s ‘world’ view

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 - The high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has imaged the 1997 landing site of NASA's Mars Pathfinder, revealing new details of hardware on the surface and the geology of the region. See
g Message - It is up to the present generation of astronomers to begin the survey of small solar system objects to determine if any of them seem to be artificial. We may have to observe many thousands of asteroids or comets to find a likely candidate. But "conventional" SETI searchers are used to laborious searches since they must investigate hundreds or thousands of stars in the hope of finding one communicative civilization. Perhaps a broadened search strategy will enlarge the likelihood of a successful detection. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Moons of Jupiter.” In this lesson plan, students build model rovers to learn about engineering and evidence of alien life. See http://www.adlerplanet
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Isaac Asimov’s “The Gods Themselves” (published by Ballentine in 1972).
g Aftermath - How would proof of extraterrestrial intelligence affect humanity’s “world” view? Astronomer Steve Dick discusses the matter in this transcribed Smithsonian Institute lecture, from 1999, at