Monday, May 19, 2008

'Habitable Planets for Man' and testing new space vehicles

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 is the habitable zone for the nearby star 82 Eridani?
g Abodes - Book alert: Here's a classic — "Habitable Planets for Man," by Stephen H. Dale. As one reviewer writes, "This book was written in 1970 as an analysis of what sort of planet would be inhabitable by humans on a permanent basis (colonization), and what are the chances of finding such planets around nearby stars. The book looks at human requirements, such as temperature, gravity, atmospheric composition, etc. Then other factors are reviewed, such as solar system organization, stellar properties, satellite relationships, special properties of binary star systems, etc. This book makes for some very interesting reading. It is rather dated, though, with the mass of Pluto being placed at equivalent to the Earths, and with water oceans being speculated about for Venus. Admittedly, this probably does mean that some of the conclusions are suspect. However, the depth of information in this book does make it an interesting resource for science-fiction authors, and other interested in speculating about extra-solar planets for man." See article.
g Cosmicus - For three weeks, volunteers have spent time breathing and sweating inside a NASA test chamber to help researchers design systems for future space vehicles. The systems will control carbon dioxide and humidity for crew capsules that will take human explorers to the moon and beyond. See article.
g Learning - "'Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.' – Carl Sagan." These are the words on the back of more than 200 T-shirts the SETI Institute donated to Cosmos Education – a grass-roots non-profit dedicated to science and technology education and the role of science and technology in health, the environment and sustainable development. The model is simple – seeking to engage, empower and inspire youth in developing countries through hands-on learning activities and experiments. Students learn about the molecular structure of water by pretending to be oxygen and hydrogen atoms; they learn about how soap works by doing experiments with soap, water and oil; they learn about the HIV virus by constructing a human chain model of DNA. These and our many other activities capture the curiosity of students and get them asking questions about the world in which they live. See article.

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