Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Looking for biomarkers on exoworlds and alien signals washing over us right now

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 - The ground where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit became stuck last year holds evidence that water, perhaps as snow melt, trickled into the subsurface fairly recently and on a continuing basis. See article.
g Intelligence - The theory that later Neanderthals might have been sufficiently advanced to fashion jewellery and tools similar to those of incoming modern humans has suffered a setback. A new radiocarbon dating study, led by Oxford University, has found that an archaeological site that uniquely links Neanderthal remains to sophisticated tools and jewellery may be partially mixed. See article.
g Message - What are the chances that an alien signal has been sent our way just at the right moment to splash upon our antennas during that brief interval? If the extraterrestrials beam their broadcasts to the whole galaxy (or at least a big chunk of it), the chances are 100 percent. See article. This article is from 2006.
g Cosmicus - These are exciting times for planet hunters, with Kepler and CoRoT in the hunt, three ongoing searches for rocky worlds around Centauri A and B, and the continuing WISE mission, which may identify planet-bearing red and brown dwarfs that we haven’t spotted yet, not to mention numerous radial-velocity, transit and microlensing projects. But stepping back to get the big picture is a bit sobering. Jean Schneider did that recently in a paper looking at the far future of direct imaging, wondering where we were headed after Kepler and CoRoT. Schneider (Paris Observatory) talks about a “conceptual or knowledge horizon” that limits us to detecting biomarkers and keeps us from going much further than that for centuries. See article.

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