Saturday, March 21, 2009

M-type stars close to Earth and Mars’ salty liquid water

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 - More than 261 "M" main-sequence, red dwarf stars are currently believed to be located within 10 parsecs (pc) - ­ or 32.6 light-years - of Sol. Thus, at least two-thirds (70 percent) of more than 370 stars and white and brown dwarfs found thus far to be located within 10 pc are very dim red dwarfs. At least 40 percent of some 260 red dwarfs have been identified as flare and variable stars, and so are likely to be "young" enough to be rotating rapidly and generating a dynamic magnetic field. However, all are much dimmer, smaller, and less massive than Sol. See article.
g Abodes - For the first time, liquid water has been detected on Mars. Salty, liquid water was identified on a leg of NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander. The discovery has important implications in determining whether or not Mars is habitable for life. See article.
g Life - Three new bacterial species found in the upper stratosphere are probably not alien visitors — but they're still quite remarkable. See article.

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