Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cosmic smash-ups, Saturn's G ring and Dynamic 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 Stars - Four galaxies are slamming into each other and kicking up billions of stars in one of the largest cosmic smash-ups ever observed. The clashing galaxies will eventually merge into a single, behemoth galaxy up to 10 times as massive as our own Milky Way. See article.
g Abodes - Cassini scientists may have identified the source of one of Saturn's more mysterious rings. Saturn's G ring likely is produced by relatively large, icy particles that reside within a bright arc on the ring's inner edge. See article.
g Message - Just how does SETI work? Here’s a good primer for those looking to get a basic overview.
g Cosmicus - A scientifically bold orbital mission in 2013 can address profound and basic scientific gaps that remain in the era beyond MRO. Not surprisingly, there is no single instrument complement that addresses all of the highest priority science, and the science analysis group identified three primary mission scenarios that would address multiple objectives. The high priority measurements are each traceable to MEPAG and NRC goals. These measurements are directly linked to the requested science study areas of the Charter and other areas where critical gaps in current knowledge exist. All three scenarios address a theme of Dynamic Mars: Activity, Transport and Change. Any one of these three scenarios will return significant new information relevant to our understanding of the planet, its history and its potential for life. See article.
g Learning - Are you thinking of a career in SETI? Note: This article is from 1998.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, "Before Eden," published in June 1961’s Amazing.
g Aftermath - What would an intelligent signal from another planet change about human destiny? This large question is the topic of the book "The SETI Factor," by Frank White, who also analyzes how to announce such an historic finding and whether it would unite or divide nations. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.