Friday, August 13, 2010

Finding Mars on Earth and simplifying SETI

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, often start by exploring cold, dry, thin aired Mars-like “analogue” sites on Earth. See article.
g Life - Puzzling out how biology gained a foothold on Earth has obvious importance for gauging whether it's likely to be widespread in the universe. After all, if life required some really special circumstances to jump-start its existence on our planet, then you can safely figure that the bulk of the universe is as sterile as steam. See article. This article is from 2002.
g Message - Could SETI efforts be simpler? While today’s radio searches rely on highly sophisticated antennas and receivers, our fledgling optical search systems are far less intricate. Experiments to look for fleeting flashes of light from other star systems have been conducted using only a modest telescope and about 20 thousand dollars’ worth of electronics. Simple and cheap, like onion dip. See article. This article is from 2006.
g Cosmicus - In early 2007 New Horizons flew through the Jupiter system, getting a speed-boost from the giant planet's gravity while snapping stunning, close-up images of Jupiter and its largest moons. Three years later, New Horizons has given us another glimpse of Jupiter, this time from a vantage point more than 16 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, and nearly 1,000 times as far away as when the probe reconnoitered Jupiter. See article.
g Aftermath - We humans are familiar with the back-and-forth of face-to-face contact — something we likely will not have in an interstellar conversation. The timescale of a human life may well not be enough for a meaningful dialogue with another species. Interstellar dialogue may make sense only across generations. See article. This article is from 2003.

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