Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New lunar science institute, protein architectures reveal past and careers in astrobiology

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 - Scientists examining samples of the Solar Wind returned to Earth by NASA's Genesis mission are solving questions about how our Solar System evolved. This investigation is important in ultimately determining how the Solar System became habitable for life as we know it. See article.
g Abodes - NASA said Tuesday that it plans to establish a new lunar science institute, in the hopes of laying the groundwork for future missions to the moon. See article.
g Life - The present can tell you a lot about the past, but you need to know where to look. A new study appearing this month in Genome Research reveals that protein architectures - the three-dimensional structures of specific regions within proteins - provide an extraordinary window on the history of life. See article.
g Cosmicus - While recognizing that many of the driving forces behind human space flight are social and political, rather than narrowly scientific, it seems clear that science has been, and will continue to be, a major beneficiary of having people in space. What, after all, is the alternative? We can either stay at home, sending a few robot spacecraft to our neighboring planets, and continuing to gaze at the more distant universe across light years of empty space, or we can get ourselves out among the planets and, eventually, the stars. In which alternative future would we learn the most about this universe and our place within it? See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat educational Web site that allows grade school students to role-play NASA careers, as they search for and design a planet that would be habitable to humans. The site highlights NASA careers and astrobiology research in: astronomy, geology, biology and atmospheric sciences.

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