Monday, November 12, 2007

Possibility of Earth-like planets around 47 UMa, visiting Titan and cooperation in space exploration

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 - The system of 47 UMa consists of two Jupiter-size planets beyond the outer edge of the stellar habitable zone, and thus resembles our own Solar System rather closely. Here’s a paper that explores the habitability of this system for Earth-like planets, following a concept that assumes the long-term possibility of photosynthetic biomass production under geodynamic conditions. See article.
g Abodes - If space travelers ever visit Saturn's largest moon, they will find a tropical world where temperatures plunge to minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit, methane rains from the sky and dunes of ice or tar cover the planet's most arid regions. See article.
g Cosmicus - Policy researchers are predicting a new age of cooperation in space exploration. A recent conference in Vienna brought together researchers from numerous fields in the humanities to discuss how exploration of the Moon, Mars and other locations in the Solar System will affect science and society. See article.
g Learning - A new academic field attracting chemists, biologists and geologists alike is gaining popularity at Stanford. The Earth Systems program is planning a new concentration in astrobiology, and one undergraduate is pursuing am Individually Designed Major in that field. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Aftermath - Book alert: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Philosophical Inquiry by David Lamb (Routledge) critically evaluates claims concerning the status of SETI as a genuine scientific research program and examines the attempts to establish contact with other intelligent life forms in the past thirty years. Are we alone in the universe? Is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence a waste of resources or a genuine contribution to scientific research? And how should we communicate with other life‑forms if we make contact?

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