Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pluto's crystalline water and ammonia ice and robots mapping 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 Abodes - Researchers say they’ve discovered crystalline water and ammonia ice on the surface of Pluto's moon Charon. This would be in agreement with data collected by Voyager surveys that have shown these ices to be components of a large number of similarly sized satellites in the outer solar system. The authors note that Charon is very similar in size to two moons circling Uranus - Ariel and Umbriel - both of which demonstrate clear evidence of geological activity at some point in their life histories. See article. Note: This article is from 1999.
g Cosmicus - Scientists will need detailed geologic maps of Mars to guide their search for life there. Typically such maps are produced through painstaking human field work. A group of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University wants to know whether a robot could do the job instead. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Harry Turtledove’s novel “Worldwar: In the Balance,” published by Del Rey in 1992.
g Aftermath - Would ET vote? What effect will ET’s political philosophy have on ours once contact is made? It’s an older piece but well worth the read. See article.

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