Saturday, August 23, 2008

Perchlorate on Mars and revolutionizing science education

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 -Scientists responsible for NASA's Phoenix mission were surprised to find the chemical compound perchlorate in the soil at the spacecraft's landing site. On Earth, perchlorate is commonly associated with liquid water. On Mars, however, the implication is not so clear. See article.
g Life - In Astrobiology Magazine’s latest podcast, “Naked Astrobiology”: Is All Life Left-Handed?”, host Simon Mitton interviews Axel Brandenburg, an astrobiologist at the NORDITA research facility at Stockholm in Sweden, considers why terrestrial life is based on molecules that have a left-handed symmetry, when their mirror images should work just as well. He considers the intriguing question: could life be right handed, at the molecular level, elsewhere in the solar system? See podcast.
g Message -What are the advantages of looking for ET using near-infrared laser communications? There’s a good explanation at a University of Kentucky Web site.
g Cosmicus -Many scientifically interesting sites on Mars lie on the steep faces of cliffs and craters, out of reach of present-day technology. A group of NASA engineers has developed a three-rover system, modeled on tether-aided human climbing, that may make these locations accessible. See article.
g Learning -Research scientists aren’t the only ones getting excited about astrobiology. This new discipline has tremendous potential for revolutionizing science education. It is rich with exciting content to engage those who generally don’t consider themselves scientifically-oriented, and also for opening the ears and minds of adults who may want a new reason to visit their local science center. See article.
g Imagining -The existence of a race of sentient alien robots might be not just possible, but inevitable. In fact, we might be living in a "postbiological universe" right now, in which intelligent extraterrestrials somewhere have exchanged organic brains for artificial ones. See article.
g Aftermath - As we look toward exploring other worlds, and perhaps even bringing samples back to Earth for testing, astrobiologists have to wonder: could there be alien pathogens in those samples that will wreak havoc on our world? See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

No comments: