Thursday, March 12, 2009

Messages beamed to Gliese 581c and protein evolution

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 - Scientists searching for extraterrestrial life might want to start digging under a Martian mountain three times as high as Mount Everest. See article.
g Abodes - The water that previously existed on the surface of Mars was probably too salty and too acidic to support the development of life. See article.
g Life - A new study on proteins is shedding light on the history of life on Earth. After eons of gradual evolution, proteins experienced an explosion of new forms that coincided with the increasing diversity of bacteria, archaea and eucarya. See article.
g Message - Last October, messages from Earth were beamed specifically at an alien world considered capable of supporting life, the planet Gliese 581c, a "super-Earth" located approximately 20 light years from us. See article.
g Cosmicus - On March 6, NASA launched Kepler, a telescope designed to find Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars. Kepler will study 100,000 stars simultaneously. But to examine the atmospheres of distant Earths for signs of life, says Sara Seagar of MIT, NASA may need to build a fleet of hundreds of tiny orbiting telescopes, each one dedicated to staring at a single star. See article.
g Learning - A childhood fascination with rocks has helped make this academic a world leader in the search for life on Mars. See article.

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