Monday, April 07, 2008

Habitable zone for Ross 154 and why evolution on Earth was delayed 2 billion years

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 - What would be the habitable zone for the nearby star Ross 154?
g Abodes - The discovery of 28 new planets and 7 brown dwarfs outside the Solar System was recently announced by the world's largest planet-hunting team. New and refined techniques are responsible for the large number of planets detected, and may soon help the team discover smaller, Earth-like planets around distant stars. See article.
g Life - Scientists from around the world have reconstructed changes in Earth's ancient ocean chemistry during a broad sweep of geological time, from about 2.5 to 0.5 billion years ago. They have discovered that a deficiency of oxygen and the heavy metal molybdenum in the ancient deep ocean may have delayed the evolution of animal life on Earth for nearly 2 billion years. See article.
g Message - To subject the Fermi Paradox to needed experimental testing, a researcher has offered the Artifact Hypothesis: A technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilization has undertaken a long-term program of interstellar exploration via transmission of material artifacts. See article.
g Cosmicus - There are several new missions set to explore the planet Mars over the next decade. Astrobiology Magazine recently discussed these missions with Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, and Luann Becker, a geochemist who is developing an instrument for the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission. See article.
g Learning - With about 50 researchers, the Penn State Astronomy and Astrophysics department works under the radar. Each day, astronomers are discovering stars, finding planets in other solar systems and looking for life on other planets, all in Davey Lab. Even though the researchers call this time "the golden era of astronomy," many worry for the future, when funding may force projects and research to halt. See article.

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