Monday, December 12, 2011

Testing technology to explore Titan’s lakes

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 - A team of scientists has traveled to remote Laguna Negra in the central Andes of Chile to test technologies that could one day be used to explore the lakes of Titan. Astrobiology Magazine's Expeditions Editor, Henry Bortman, provides a first-hand account of their progress. See article.
g Imagining - Could "Star Trek"'s Alfa 177 canine exist? Setting aside the facial features that show the canine is an Earth-descended vertebrate, the answer is yes. The Alfa 113 biome the Enterprise crew visits is cold but dry, perhaps a summer plain set below a great continental ice sheet. In cold climates, life forms need to be compact and/or covered in thick hair or fat; this is so with this creature. In addition, the canine's short legs indicate it need not worry about snowdrifts. Based on the creature's canine teeth and jaw structure, it must be a predator; considering the canine's size, it likely preys on creatures no larger than rats - and rodents are quite abundant on the tundra. A lack of claws indicates it doesn't burrow, however, which probably would be necessary in such a climate. Perhaps caves in the area or other creature's burrows provide shelter. As for the antenna upon its head, I'll withhold speculation!
g Aftermath - Here’s one futurist’s thoughts about what will happen to humanity when we make first contact with aliens. I offer this site not for its scientific rigor but as an example of something all of us who care about astrobiology should consider: What are the trends in popular culture about first contact? Such thinking will greatly influence public reaction when first contact actually does occur. See article.

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