Friday, November 21, 2008

Underground Martian glaciers and how to respond to signals from extraterrestrial intelligence

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 -Giant glaciers buried under the surface of Mars at much lower latitudes than any previously known ice are a potential source of drinking water for future astronauts. See article.
g Message -The drive to place humanity at the center of the universe has led to a stream of assumptions that, as facts have been collected, are shown to be ill founded. The Ptolemaic Earth centered view was replaced by Copernican Sun centered view, which in its time was also replaced. The assumption that we are alone in the universe is also under threat of replacement. One of the more interesting aspects of our apparent aloneness was pointed out by Enrico Fermi and is know as Fermi's Paradox. See article.
g Cosmicus -The next-generation Mars rover will visit the Red Planet to sniff out the smallest traces of organic material – the building blocks of life. Trouble is, the Mars Science Laboratory is made from several kilograms of organic material from Earth. How will mission scientists keep the Martian samples clean, and distinguish which molecules are from Mars, and which are from Earth? See article.
g Learning -Here’s a neat Web site to help kids (or even adults) better understand the night sky: “Your Sky,” an interactive planetarium. You can produce maps in the forms described below for any time and date, viewpoint, and observing location. If you enter the orbital elements of an asteroid or comet, Your Sky will compute its current position and plot it on the map. Each map is accompanied by an ephemeris for the Sun, Moon, planets, and any tracked asteroid or comet. A control panel permits customization of which objects are plotted, limiting magnitudes, color scheme, image size and other parameters. See article.
g Aftermath - Philosophers and former politicians joined an elite group of scientists whose job it is to work out how to respond to signals from extraterrestrial intelligence. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.

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