Saturday, August 04, 2007

Phoenix lander launches for Mars, complete photographic record from Apollo and space biology

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 -Nearly 40 years after humans first walked on the Moon, the complete photographic record from Apollo will be accessible on the Internet. The images are an important resource for mission planners working on NASA's return to the Moon. See article.
g Life - In the second part of an exclusive Astrobiology Magazine interview, Project Scientist Jorge Vago explains how the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, scheduled for launch in 2011, will carry out its search for signs of life on Mars. See article.
g Message -Recent discussions within the SETI community have thoroughly explored the issue of whether people with access to radio telescopes should send powerful signals to alien civilizations without some process of prior international consultation. In particular, those exchanges have focused on the question of "Active SETI." See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission blasted off today, aiming for a May 25, 2008 arrival at the Red Planet and a close-up examination of the surface of the northern polar region. See article.
g Learning -There are some great teacher resources on space biology at this page. The modules cover such topics as “Life in the Universe,” “Radiation Biology” and “Life in Space Environments.” Each module includes an introduction, readings and references, teaching resources and research and applications.
g Imagining -Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “Childhood's End,” published by Ballantine in 1953.
g Aftermath -Could religions survive contact with extraterrestrials? The Medieval Church didn't think so, as the discovery would challenge mankind's central role in the cosmos. Today such ideas are considered old fashioned, and many theologians welcome the discovery of life — even intelligent life — among the stars. But if scientists were to find microscopic Martians or a signal from another world, would established religions really take it in stride? For a discussion, check out this past program of SETI’s "Are We Alone?" at this page. Note: An mp3 player is required to play the audio files; you can download one at the site for free.