Thursday, November 19, 2009

How planets migrate and the first thing an extraterrestrial civilization is likely to hear from Earth

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Abodes - Astronomers have found that the extrasolar planet HAT-P-7b has a retrograde or highly tilted orbit. Studying such planets is important in understanding the diversity of planetary systems and assessing current models of how planets migrate. The findings could help astrobiologists in the search for habitable planets beyond our solar system. See article.
g Life - In both A&E’s recent remake of The Andromeda Strain, and the 1971 version of the Micheal Crichton novel, scientists are confronted with a microscopic invader, Andromeda, that has none of the trappings that we associated with life, but which is definitely alive. It grows, reproduces and evolves—all without the benefit of DNA, amino acids, water, or the complex carbon-based proteins that make all life as we know it tick. Instead, Andromeda appears to be crystalline in nature. Is such a lifeform possible? See article. Note: This article is from 2008.
g Message - Chirps and whistles of our planet's auroral kilometric radiation (AKR) might be the first thing an extraterrestrial civilization is likely to hear from Earth. In reality, they are the sounds that accompany the aurora. The European Space Agency's Cluster mission is showing scientists how to understand this emission and, in the future, search for alien worlds by listening for their sounds. See article.
g Learning - If you need a last minute Christmas idea, here it is: Model rocketry is a great way to get children interested in science and engineering. After buying that starter kit, head to the National Association of Rocketry’s outstanding collection of resources for getting started in the hobby and teaching it in school.
g Aftermath - As we look toward exploring other worlds, and perhaps even bringing samples back to Earth for testing, astrobiologists have to wonder: could there be alien pathogens in those samples that will wreak havoc on our world? See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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