Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Exoworld’s brief, searing encounter with its star and where Kepler will look for Earth-like planets

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Stars - The two STEREO spacecraft may be pressed into service to study what’s lurking in the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points, each 150 million kilometers from Earth, with L4 60 degrees in front of our planet and L5 60 degrees behind. Balancing the gravitational field of the Sun with that of Earth, the Lagrange points are interesting places, possibly a junkyard of debris from the early Solar System. See article.
g Abodes - A research team recently wrote up its Spitzer infrared observations of this mutable gas giant, a world with an orbit so eccentric that it almost mimics a comet, swinging out to 0.85 AU from its star, then rushing in to a breathtaking 0.03 AU for a brief, searing encounter. See article.
g Life - Strange life forms don't have to be the domain of distant planets and old Star Trek episodes. Astrobiologist Paul Davies says life as we don't know it might already exist in our own backyard. Davies talks with host Bruce Gellerman about the possibility of life on Earth evolving more than once, and about why scientists should launch a "mission to Earth" to find alien life. See interview. For related story, see Finding ‘Weird Life’ on Earth.
g Cosmicus - What area of space will Kepler search for Earth-like planets? See article.
g Imagining - If “weird life” did exist on Earth (see the Life entry above), what might it be like? One science fiction writer has taken a look. See article.

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