Saturday, February 24, 2007

High-energy cosmos, microbial habitats on Mars and teaching astrobiology in high schools

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 - Integral's latest survey of the gamma-ray universe continues to change the way astronomers think of the high-energy cosmos. With more than 70 percent of the sky now observed by Integral, astronomers have been able to construct the largest catalogue yet of individual gamma-ray-emitting celestial objects. And there is no end in sight for the discoveries. See
g Abodes - The first observations from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that liquid or gas flowed through cracks penetrating underground rock on Mars. These fluids may have produced conditions to support possible habitats for microbial life. See
g Learning - Although exobiology is of widespread interest to high school science students, it is not generally dealt with comprehensively in most textbooks. In addition, teachers often have inadequate resources available to prepare classroom presentations on how life may have begun on Earth and whether these processes might take place elsewhere in the solar system and the universe. Here’s a classroom teaching module suitable for use in both general and advanced high school biology courses: See