Sunday, June 27, 2010

M-type flare stars may still support life and astronauts learning field science for astrobiology

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 - Many of our galaxy's suns have destroyed the atmospheres of orbiting Earth-like planets — or so astrobiologists have long feared. The Milky Way, they note, is dominated by M dwarf stars: violent, unpredictable suns that frequently hurl high-energy particles and solar flares into space. Because they are much cooler than our sun, any potentially habitable planet would need to orbit them much closer than Earth does, putting it smack in the danger zone. But a new study indicates that these planets may be unexpectedly shielded from solar activity, keeping life safe. See article.
g Abodes - How did the Earth stay warm 3.8 billion years ago when the young sun was 30 percent weaker? It's a mystery scientists have long been trying to solve, and it may come down to global warming. Ancient warming on Earth can also provide important clues concerning modern climate change. See article.
g Life - A team of scientists and astronauts return this week to Pavilion Lake in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The scientists will be continuing their effort to understand what role biology plays in forming the strange structures that line the lakebed, while the astronauts will be learning how to do field science. See article.
g Message - If you’re not familiar with’s “Great Debates series, you’ll want to head right away to their Web site. The discussions draw upon experts in the astrobiology field. The Fermi paradox (“If there’s intelligent life out there, then why haven’t we heard from them?” is examined in six parts here.
g Learning - Astronomy begins by just looking up. As the crisp spring evenings lure you out of the house, your gaze may be drawn to several bright "stars" overhead that may bring to mind the old nursery rhyme: “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Imagining - If a massive asteroid is hurtling toward Earth and threatening to sterilize the entire planet, blasting it to pieces with nuclear bombs might seem fit for a Hollywood movie. But, it could, in fact, be a viable solution to the potentially apocalyptic event, according to scientists who have studied asteroids and possible solutions to prevent Earth impacts. See article.
g Aftermath - Given the plethora of New Age/UFOlogy Web sites about alien contact, it’s refreshing to find one that’s serious. Try the “extraterrestrial intelligence, implications following first contact” entry at astrobiologist David Darling’s site “The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight”. It includes some links and a mini reference list.

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