Tuesday, April 05, 2011

More evidence of a hot, acidic early Earth and why NASA is sending out any deep space probes

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 - NASA's Dawn spacecraft is preparing to enter orbit around the “minor planet” Vesta. The data that Dawn returns will help astrobiologists understand how small rocky bodies in our solar system were formed. See article.
g Life - A new study reveals that a group of ancient enzymes adapted to substantial changes in ocean temperature and acidity during the last four billion years, providing evidence that life on Early Earth evolved from a much hotter, more acidic environment to the cooler, less acidic global environment that exists today. See article.
g Intelligence - It's been a puzzle why our two closest living primate relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, have widely different social traits, despite belonging to the same genus. Now, a comparative analysis of their brains shows neuroanatomical differences that may be responsible for these behaviors, from the aggression more typical of chimpanzees to the social tolerance of bonobos. See article.
g Cosmicus - Nearly 50 years after the first human spaceflight, NASA is currently in poor shape to send astronauts on long deep space voyages because the agency's life and physical sciences program has shrunk dramatically in both size and scope in recent years, a new report suggests. See article.

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