Friday, March 27, 2009

Narrowing the SETI search and robotic Mars missions as Dead Men Walking?

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 - A neat piece of detective work to trace the roots of an exploded star has turned up a deeper mystery: why the victim, which turned out to be a beast of star more than 50 times bigger than our sun, didn't disappear into a black hole, as prevailing theories of stellar evolution predict, and why it exploded in the first place. See article.
g Abodes - A new look at data gathered from the Galileo spacecraft in 1990 reveals that Venus at one time may have been habitable, with evidence of past continents and oceans. See article.
g Life - Twenty different amino acids go into making up the vast variety of proteins so essential to life. But why does life on Earth use only left-handed versions of amino acids to build them? See article.
g Message - The search for extraterrestrial intelligence by looking for signals from advanced technological civilizations has been ongoing for some decades. Now some scientists suggest that it could possibly be made more efficient by focusing on stars from which the solar system can be observed via mini-eclipsings of the Sun by transiting planets. See article.
g Cosmicus - The robotic Mars program is sort of a planetary Dead Man Walking these days, as scientists debate what missions should be next on the agenda and how Mars should compete for funding with other compelling destinations ranging from our own moon to potentially life-harboring moons in the outer solar system. See article.
g Learning - Thinking about a future in science? Ever wonder just what scientists do every day? Or what it takes to prepare for a science career? Check out what these real-life scientists have to say about how they chose their work, what they do everyday and why they enjoy being scientists. See article.

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