Monday, April 30, 2007

Symphonic sun, digging into Martian subsurface and asteroid probe

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 - Astronomers have recorded heavenly music bellowed out by the Sun’s atmosphere. See
g Abodes - Ahead of the Phoenix spacecraft's launch in August, scientists are analyzing images of the Martian surface in order to select a safe and rock-free landing site for the craft on the northern plains of Mars. Once on the ground, Phoenix will dig into the Martian subsurface and help determine if the planet was ever hospitable for life. See
g Life - Scientists exploring a mine have uncovered a natural Sistine chapel showing not religious paintings, but incredibly well preserved images of sprawling tree trunks and fallen leaves that once breathed life into an ancient rainforest. See
g Intelligence - Since the human-chimp split about 6 million years ago, chimpanzee genes can be said to have evolved more than human genes, a new study suggests. See
g Message - A technique used to discover the small rocky world that was announced last year also could be used to detect a transmitter with the power of your local TV station at a distance of a hundred light-years, even if the alien broadcasters weren’t beaming our way. See
g Cosmicus - A small Japanese asteroid probe riddled by a streak of bad luck began its slow limp home Wednesday, but officials still face a myriad of challenges to bring the craft back in 2010. See
g Learning - What are university students learning about astrobiology? Check out "An Introduction to Astrobiology." Compiled by a team of experts, this textbook has been designed for elementary university courses in astrobiology. It begins with an examination of how life may have arisen on Earth and then reviews the evidence for possible life on Mars, Europa and Titan. The potential for life in exoplanetary systems and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are also discussed. The text contains numerous useful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. It is also supported by a Web site hosting further teaching materials. Written in an accessible style that avoids complex mathematics, this book is suitable for self-study and will appeal to amateur enthusiasts as well as undergraduate students. It contains numerous helpful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. The book is also supported by a Website hosting further teaching materials. See http://www.sciencedaily./com/cgibin/apf4/amazon_
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Paul Dellinger’s short story "Absolution," anthologized in “First Contact” (edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Larry Segriff and published by DAW in 1997).
g Aftermath - Scientists should pay greater attention to discussing the social implications of discovering extraterrestrial life - even though many researchers shy away from the subject because they don't consider it "hard" science. See news/article163.html.