Friday, April 18, 2008

Galactic habitable zones and odds of intelligent life evolving

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 - Here at the Astrobiology Science Conference 2008 in Santa Clara, Charley Lineweaver, a Senior Fellow at the Planetary Science Institute is trying to figure out where in a galaxy aliens might live - the so-called "galactic habitable zone." Planetary habitable zones are well-known - for our sun Sol, we think it's roughly between Venus' orbit and the asteroid belt outside Mars' orbit. Galactic habitable zones are little tougher to pin down - as usual you've got to worry about having liquid water (or liquid something), but things get interesting when you consider the risk of getting blown up by a supernova. See article.
g Abodes - In the Star Wars movies fictional planets are covered with forests, oceans, deserts, and volcanoes. But new models from a team of MIT, NASA, and Carnegie scientists begin to describe an even wider range of Earth-size planets that astronomers might actually be able to find in the near future. See article.
g Life - By sticking microbes to the outside of the International Space Station, Japanese researchers aim to test the "panspermia" theory that comets and asteroids can spread life between planets. See article.
g Intelligence - The likelihood were are not alone and intelligent life has evolved is just 0.01 percent on each suitable planet according to calculations by one scientist. See article.
g Cosmicus - Mars is preparing for an invasion from Earth. The rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still traveling across the surface of the Red Planet, but NASA and the European Space Agency are planning to send more missions over the next few years. First up is the Mars Phoenix lander. Launched last year, this mission is due to arrive near the Martian north pole on May 25. See article.
g Imagining - Here are 10 alleged alien encounters — those brushes with aliens (or supposed aliens) that have been definitively debunked over the years. See article.

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