Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to see Venus’ transit and why space colonies shouldn’t be on planets first

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 - On June 4th, 2012, Venus will pass across the face of the Sun creating an eclipse that will not happen again until 2117. In the past, Venus' rare eclipses have taught scientists important information about our solar system. Data from this year's event could help us study extrasolar planets. See article.
g Life - Researchers have documented one of the longest ecological interaction chains ever documented. Their findings shed light on how human disturbance may lead to widespread ecological disruptions. See article.
g Cosmicus - From the very beginnings of both science fiction and serious scientific speculation, most concepts for future colonization beyond the Earth have targeted the planet Mars. The reason why is easy to see. Of all the planets in our solar system, it's the one most like Earth. But starting in 1969, Princeton University's Professor Gerard O'Neill began looking in a different direction: toward artificial habitats constructed in orbit from materials already in space. He had started by asking the question, "Is the surface of the Earth really the right place for an expanding technological civilization?" Some study seemed to indicate the answer was "No". Calculations revealed that orbital habitats could be surprisingly large and Earth-like, and would have many advantages over any planetary home. O'Neill's findings made us realize there was an unspoken and unquestioned assumption underlying the logic that pointed toward Mars: In order to create colonies beyond Earth, we must first find a planet on which to build them. See article.

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