Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Martian dust and life so unusual that we cannot figure out how it dies

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 -NASA's Phoenix lander has taken the first image of Martian dust under a microscope. The technology will help scientists determine if Mars is, or ever was suitable for life. The achievement also highlights the capabilities of robotic microscopy on another planet. See article.
g Life - Imagine a form of life so unusual that we cannot figure out how it dies. That’s exactly what researchers are finding beneath the floor of the sea off Peru. The microbes being studied there — single-celled organisms called Archaea — live in time frames that can perhaps best be described as geological. See article.
g Message -When the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were launched in 1977, they each included a gold-plated phonograph record (a "golden record") of natural sounds, greetings in human voices, and a variety of music. The record cover has symbolic instructions that show how to use and understand the record, though scientists still debate whether other civilizations will be able to decipher them. For info on Voyager’s golden record, click here. For an explanation of the record cover diagram, click here. For an interactive module that contains greetings, sounds, and pictures included on the record (requires Flash plug-in), click here.
g Aftermath - How might interested parties envisage the design of a human team to prepare for an encounter with aliens — and improve the operational guidelines for that eventuality? See article.

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