Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two planets found around young stars and unconfirmed signal

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 - Astronomers have directly imaged two young stars that reveal host planets may have formed from their disks. The finding will help scientists understand planet formation, an essential step in determining where to search for habitable, Earth-like worlds. See article.
g Abodes - NASA's Stardust spacecraft returned new images of a comet showing a scar resulting from the 2005 Deep Impact mission. The images also showed the comet has a fragile and weak nucleus. See article.
g Life - Scientists have discovered that organisms evolved to use chitin as a structural component of their bodies much earlier than previously thought. The study included astrobiologists, and can help us understand the history and evolution of life on Earth. See article.
g Intelligence - Neurons are complicated, but the basic functional concept is that synapses transmit electrical signals to the dendrites and cell body (input), and axons carry signals away (output). In one of many surprise findings, scientists have discovered that axons can operate in reverse: they can send signals to the cell body, too. See article.
g Message - In August 1977, a sky survey conducted with Ohio State University's "Big Ear" radio telescope found what has become known as the “Wow” signal. Registering enormous signal strength, the shape of the signal had the characteristic rise and fall expected for its short 72-second lifetime. But a hitch remains: The signal has not been retrieved from other sky surveys, making it more anomaly than confirmable cosmic source. See article. This article is from 2003.
g Cosmicus - The Sample Analysis at Mars instrument has been carefully installed on NASA's next Mars rover. SAM is part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is scheduled to launch in November of 2011, and will search for organic molecules on the surface of Mars. See article.

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