Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gravitational waves in space, new findings about Earth’s evil twin and crossing the termination shock

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 - Astronomers are searching for gravitational waves in space, a feat that would literally change what we know about the cosmos. Using new tools to look at the universe, says Patrick Brady, often has led to discoveries that change the course of science. History is full of examples. See article.
g Abodes - Two years after Venus Express left a launch pad in Kazakhstan, the first European mission to Earth's “evil twin” is turning up results. See article.
g Life - The Viking missions to Mars tried to find evidence for life on the planet's surface, but the results of those experiments were frustratingly ambiguous. Joop Houtkooper recently has taken another look at the data, and he suspects that Viking may have discovered Martian microbes after all. See article.
g Message - In 2001, a group of Russian teens from Moscow, Kaluga, Voronezh and Zheleznogorsk participated directly and via the Internet in composing a Teen-Age Message to extraterrestrial intelligence, and in the selection of target stars. Their message was transmitted in the autumn of that year, from the Evpatoria Deep Space Center. See article.
g Cosmicus - Using a computer model simulation, a physicist has predicted when the interplanetary spacecraft Voyager 2 will cross the "termination shock," the spherical shell around the solar system that marks where the solar wind slows down to subsonic speed. See article.
g Learning - The London Times this year recommends a number of science books as Christmas gifts, including one about astrobiology. See article.

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