Monday, March 30, 2009

Star system with two habitable planets and gasbags of Jupiter

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 - Could a star system with two habitable Earth-like planets exist? See abstract.
g Abodes - For aliens looking for “Earthlike” planets, the actual Earth was easy to overlook for most of its history. See article.
g Life - Microbes living deep underground could have survived the massive barrage of impacts that blasted the Earth 3.9 billion years ago, according to a new analysis. That means that today's life might be descended from microbes that arose as far back as 4.4 billion years ago, when the oceans formed. See article.
g Cosmicus - Project Daedalus was the first thoroughly detailed study of an interstellar vehicle, producing a report that has become legendary among interstellar researchers. But Daedalus wasn’t intended to be an end in itself. Tau Zero practitioner Kelvin Long here offers news of Project Icarus, a follow-up that will re-examine Daedalus in light of current technologies. See article.
g Imagining - ‘The Gasbags of Jupiter’ sounds for all the world like the title of an early 1930s novel that would have run in a venue like Science Wonder Stories. In fact, as Larry Klaes tells us below, the idea grew out of Carl Sagan’s speculations about free-floating life-forms that might populate the atmospheres of gas giant planets like Jupiter. Cornell physicist Edwin Salpeter had much to do with the evolution of that concept, helping Sagan produce a paper that was a classic of informed imagination (and one that led to numerous science fiction treatments as the idea gained currency). Larry’s celebration of Salpeter’s life gives a nod to that paper but also notes his deep involvement in the study of the most distant celestial objects. See article.

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