Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chances of spotting signals from extraterrestrials and plutoids

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 - A scientifically bold orbital mission in 2013 can address profound and basic scientific gaps that remain in the era beyond MRO. Not surprisingly, there is no single instrument complement that addresses all of the highest priority science, and the science analysis group identified three primary mission scenarios that would address multiple objectives. The high priority measurements are each traceable to MEPAG and NRC goals. These measurements are directly linked to the requested science study areas of the Charter and other areas where critical gaps in current knowledge exist. All three scenarios address a theme of Dynamic Mars: Activity, Transport and Change. Any one of these three scenarios will return significant new information relevant to our understanding of the planet, its history and its potential for life. See article.
g Abodes - The International Astronomical Union has defined new rules for naming and categorizing dwarf planets. Those similar to Pluto and with orbits beyond Neptune will now be named 'plutoids'. See article.
g Message - Is anyone out there? The chance of spotting signals from extraterrestrials is about to soar, say SETI Institute scientists, who, together with radio astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley have begun building the first telescope to look around the clock for life on other planets. See article.
g Learning - Astronomy Online provides a wealth of resources and information for teachers, students, or anyone interested in astronomy. The content is arranged into nine broad categories including Observation, Science, Solar System, Stars, Our Galaxy, Cosmology, Astrobiology, Exoplanets and Astrophotography. See review.
g Aftermath - Scientists should pay greater attention to discussing the social implications of discovering extraterrestrial life - even though many researchers shy away from the subject because they don't consider it "hard" science. See article.