NASA has been strangely active this week. Maybe it’s because their budget is getting cuts the like of which they haven’t seen since 2008. Or maybe it’s because they realized both privatized American companies and the governments of other nations are kind of kicking their asses. Other trends in space and alien news this week include the fairly perpetual themes of finding Earth-like planets, theories about alien life, and, oh yeah, pretty much everyone kicking federal (and state, thanks to Texas) American ass when it comes to space exploration. The space news has been pretty interesting -- if you go to our Interesting Sites, you can check out a few hubs for this information -- but the more alien-related news of the past week more evokes an exasperated 'come on, already.'
And here are a few representative news pieces for the week preceding May 13, 2012:
‘Is Texas forfeiting the private space race?’ Why yes, yes they are: SpaceX might have had a few difficulties in the past few weeks, but they’re still high on the list of private companies that rock.
Texas, however, doesn’t seem to so. Despite
being home to the ,
the state isn’t really acting all excited about potentially having a space port
– a space port. SpaceX is trying to keep Johnson
Space Center Texas
in the space exploration business, and Rick Perry’s government is ‘no
comment’-ing their way into oblivion. So the article’s titular question quickly
Some Valuable Information and a Face-Palm: This article discusses both the line between life and not life, as well as could be considered alien life. The former as a sort of precursor to the latter: we all have some idea of what is commonly considered ‘life’ – self-reproduction, heritage, evolution/natural selection – and the article’s professor Gerald Joyce focuses on that second one for the argument. The pieces of information that make specific structures aren’t new for any modern life. Pretty much everything (and I’m hedging here just in case this is one day not the case) started in Earth’s primordial soup. What alien life might be is something made from completely new pieces of information, or from pieces so removed from everything that they’re unrecognizable. And this is all awesome until Joyce says that we’ll only find life if we make it like a Gepetto or find it like a
need to keep any and all references to that particular person far removed from
any discoveries of new worlds.
NASA: Adapting to Contemporary Scientific Trends: I’m probably a bit unfair to NASA at the best of times – cumulatively, the administration has accomplished quite a lot of amazing stuff. So here’s an article about the Spitzer Space Telescope, a telescope conceptualized 40 years ago that’s pretty good at searching for things we’ve only recently started to take into consideration. The telescope is capable of measuring the surface conditions on planets far away from our own solar system. The first example? Planet 55 Cancri e, a super Earth water world where the whole cover layer of water is super-critical (both liquid and gas). NASA plans on launching an even better telescope in 2018, so they get some kudos.
More News About the Planetary Vastness of the Universe: While another article about the potential number of potentially life-bearing planets is not as exciting as finding just one more that definitely is life-bearing, this slow expansion of our acknowledgement about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life is pretty nice. The number of exoplanets has bumped up again, too. From just one in 1995 to hundreds or maybe (maybe) thousands in the last year or so, scientists have proposed a pretty whopping, and unspecific, number of a ‘few hundred thousand billion’ lively Earth-like planets. In the Milky Way alone. That’s a pretty gutsy thing to put up in a scientific journal.
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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.