Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bacteria with light-harvesting antennae, Mega-Channel Extraterrestrial Assay and Phoenix Express heads to Mars

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 -About 350 meteorite experts are expected at the 70th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, to be held Aug. 13-17 in Tucson. See article.
g Life - Yellowstone's hot springs are known to harbor extreme creatures that paint the water shades of red, orange and green. Now scientists have discovered a new type of bacteria with light-harvesting antennae. See article.
g Message -SETI research isn’t limited to a single facility listening to radio signals. Another dimension of the program is The Mega-Channel Extraterrestrial Assay, which searched the Southern Hemisphere's skies briefly during the 1990s. To learn more about it, see this site.
g Cosmicus - ESA’s Mars Express will keep an eye on NASA’s Phoenix lander as it makes its way to the Martian surface, setting an example for international cooperation and interplanetary networking. On Mars, Phoenix will dig up to three feet beneath the planet’s surface to collect samples of soil and ice. See article.
g Learning -NASA’s free Astrobiology Education Poster illustrates in words and pictures the fundamental questions addressed by astrobiology: What is life? Where is it? How do you find it? Three activities have been developed to explore these themes. It’s great for teachers — or parents looking to spend some quality time with their children. See article.
g Imagining -Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Theodore Sturgeon’s short story, "The Hurkle is a Happy Beast," published in the Fall 1949 F&SF magazine.
g Aftermath -The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is accelerating its pace and adopting fresh strategies. This increases the likelihood of successful detection in the near future. Humanity's first contact with alien intelligence will trigger extraordinary attention from the media, from government authorities, and from the general public. By improving our readiness for contact, especially for security during the first 30 days, we can avoid the most negative scenarios — and also enhance humanity's benefits from this first contact with an alien intelligence. Six potential problem areas include communicating with the media and the public, communicating with scientific colleagues, government control, an assassin or saboteur, well-meaning officials and lawsuits. See article.

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