Monday, January 03, 2011

Martian rovers seven years later and changing definition of life

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 - After nearly seven years, the Mars rover Opportunity is still going strong, though it has been driving backward for about two years to spread wear more evenly within its gear mechanisms. Spirit got bogged down in soft sand last year, and the rover stopped communicating with Earth in March 2010. See article.
g Life - NASA scientists have found “alien life” — not in space, but in California, in the form of an exotic microbe with DNA never seen before that feeds on arsenic, a poison. After all the hoopla, science-fiction buffs considered this announcement to be a resounding dud. But to the scientific community, this was a spectacular result. It means that every biology textbook now has to be revised. Even the very definition of life may have to be changed. See article.
g Intelligence - It has long been believed that modern humans emerged from the continent of Africa 200,000 years ago. Now archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Homo sapiens roamed the land now called Israel as early as 400,000 years ago - the earliest evidence for the existence of modern humans anywhere in the world. See article.
g Message - In 2001, California astronomers broadened the search for extraterrestrial intelligence with a new experiment to look for powerful light pulses beamed our way from other star systems. Scientists from the University of California's Lick Observatory, the SETI Institute, UC-Santa Cruz, and UC-Berkeley used the Lick Observatory's 40-inch Nickel Telescope with a new pulse-detection system capable of finding laser beacons from civilizations many light-years distant. Unlike other optical SETI searches, this new experiment is largely immune to false alarms that slow the reconnaissance of target stars. See article.

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