Monday, April 19, 2010

Titan’s varying atmosphere and what to send ETI when we receive their signal

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 - Two new and independent studies have put Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity to the test like never before. These results, made using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, show Einstein’s theory is still the best game in town. See article.
g Abodes - According to the first ever infrared analysis of the atmosphere of Neptune's moon Triton, summer is in full swing in its southern hemisphere. The European observing team used ESO's Very Large Telescope and discovered carbon monoxide and made the first ground-based detection of methane in Triton's thin atmosphere. These observations revealed that the thin atmosphere varies seasonally, thickening when warmed. See article.
g Life - The search for life on Saturn's moon Titan shows that organisms appear to thrive on far less water than conventional wisdom holds is needed to keep microbes active and alive. See article.
g Message - Could we find alien civilizations by looking for Dyson spheres? See article.
g Cosmicus - Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, one of the last men to walk on the moon, has nothing good to say about President Barack Obama’s plan to all but ground the Constellation program, which calls for a return to the moon by 2020 and human landings on Mars by the middle of the century. See article.
g Aftermath - Book alert: Science fiction writers have given us many fine novels contemplating humankind's first contact with intelligent extraterrestrials. But our nonfiction world has not thought much about what to do if we are actually faced with this situation. In “Extraterrestrial Intelligence”, Jean Heidmann, chief astronomer at the Paris Observatory (and self-styled bioastronomer), offers a book on the subject that is at once serious and fun. Heidmann's obvious joy in raw speculation - all of it grounded in real science - is contagious. If aliens send us a message from many light years away, for example, how should we respond? Heidmann reviews the protocols established in the SETI Declaration and then offers his own suggestion: send them the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

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