Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Choosing the right stars to listen for ETI signals and SpaceShipTwo tested

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 - People interested in Mars exploration, like many of the scientists at the Carl Sagan Center in Mountain View, Calif., often start by exploring cold, dry, thin aired Mars-like “analogue” sites on earth. Most of these places are isolated and hard to reach. Antarctica, the Arctic, the Peruvian Andes, Kamchatka and other exotic locales offer scientists glimpses into the kinds of environments that may hold clues to understanding Mars and the processes that have shaped it. Of key interest is the extreme or unusual conditions under which life persists. We know that everywhere on earth where we find liquid water, we find life, but what are the limits? How cold, how hot, how high, how deep, can life be and still survive? Temperature, pressure, gravity, pH, salinity, radiation, available nutrients and more all represent parameters that can influence an environment and its ability to sustain life, so areas where these parameters are extreme can be very informative. See article.
g Life - True to their name (which is a Greco-Latin combo for “someone who loves extremes”), extremophiles can batten and fatten in conditions that humans – and most other species – would consider off limits. See article.
g Intelligence - Some think ancient stone spheres discovered in Costa Rica are evidence of alien visitation. One anthropologist says that while the reason the large spheres were created is not known, they have more in common with pottery than spaceships. See article.
g Message - In the search for life on other worlds, scientists can listen for radio transmissions from stellar neighborhoods where intelligent civilizations might lurk or they can try to actually spot planets like our own in habitable zones around nearby stars. Either approach is tricky and relies on choosing the right targets for scrutiny out of the many thousands of nearby stars in our galactic neighborhood. See article.
g Cosmicus - Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane took to the air for the first time Monday morning from California's Mojave Air and Space Port. See article.

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