Sunday, June 06, 2010

World for methane-based life and tumbleweed rovers

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 - Two new papers based on data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan's surface. According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized "methane-based life." See article.
g Message - If you run an alien radio station, wielding a big antenna for “targeting” worlds known to have life, you’d better ping at least 100 thousand of those worlds if you hope to garner even one listener. See article.
g Cosmicus - A new computer model could help researchers develop better wind-powered 'tumbleweed' rovers for use on Mars. Such rovers could provide an energy-efficient way of exploring the martian surface and gathering further data concerning the potential for past or present life on Mars. See article.
g Learning - In “Leaves of Grass,” famed poet Walt Whitman wrote of a "strange huge meteor-procession." Now, using forensic astronomy, researchers may have rediscovered one of the most famous celestial events of Whitman's day. See article.
g Aftermath - Among the four operating principles of the NASA Astrobiology Roadmap, Principle 3 recognizes broad societal interest for the implications of astrobiology. Although several meetings have been convened in the past decade to discuss the implications of extraterrestrial intelligence, none has addressed the broader implications of astrobiology as now defined at NASA. Here’s a paper that surveys these societal questions, and argue that they deserve further serious study, in accordance with the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. Astrobiology, already an interdisciplinary field in terms of the physical and biological sciences, should now embrace the humanities and the social and behavioral sciences in order to explore its cultural implications. Such study is part of the general need for better dialogue between science and society. See article.

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