Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Understanding Titan’s chemistry and the emerging field of geobiology

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 - Life probably shouldn't have formed in our solar system, some researchers say as the Earth and Sun are unlikely hosts. See article.
g Abodes - The latest findings concerning Titan indicate that the Saturnian moon could contain valuable in situ resources for future explorers, including fuels like propane. The discovery of propane could help scientists further understand the chemistry of Titan's atmosphere, and the potential for life's building blocks to form on the distant moon. See article.
g Life - New studies of mixotrophic algae have shown how such organisms could survive the darkened skies that follow a major asteroid impact. Such studies indicate how life manages to survive after a mass extinction event. See article.
g Message - Astronomers estimate there are 70 sextillion stars in the visible universe. That's a 7 followed by 22 zeros. Searching that inconceivably vast expanse for what would be the most sensational, and potentially disruptive discovery in the history of humankind is just another day at the office for Seth Shostak. See article.
g Cosmicus - We're already spending enough to get back to the moon, even if we had to start from scratch. See article.
g Learning - For decades, “geo” and “bio” have been seen as separate disciplines. No longer. In the past few years, USC has become the center of the emerging field of geobiology, involving rock-eating bacteria and intra- and extra-terrestrials. See article.
g Aftermath - In the next two dozen years, the Allen Telescope Array will parse the nearest thousand light-years of space. If there are other occupants of this galactic neighborhood, we could turn up a signal. But then what? Would the discovery be put under wraps, either voluntarily or by government edict? If a signal were found, would you know? See article.

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