This was just an alien-packed week. Generally, I have four or five articles that tend to draw on human space exploration just as much as they draw on any extraterrestrial-oriented news. But this week is a bit different. Not only is there the constant question of life on Mars, researchers in the Arctic are trying to figure out if methane in the solar system might be indicative of life. There’s also news about advancing observation technology and SpaceX’s plans to come back strong – I had to throw some regular old space travel in there. The week is topped off by a list of top potential alien planets, and a thrown gauntlet.
That’s right, science fiction lovers. We have been challenged. …And space scientists were also challenged. (That article is last on the list if you want to take a look.)
Before the Moment of Truth for Space X: Sadly, privatized space travel hasn’t been doing too well in the news these past weeks. But SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is back on the itinerary, and it’s bringing food and school science projects with it. Not only is the capsule bringing supplies, the astronauts at its destination are going to put it through its paces and see if the Dragon made the cut. So we’ll see Space X, we’ll see.
BOLD Goes to Mars to Find Out What Happened in 1976: The Mars question shows no sign of being settled any time soon, especially since concerted efforts for people to actually go to Mars are on some sort of permanent hiatus. But a new Mars mission set for 2018 will be primarily dedicated to finding signs of life. And, in order to cover all of our bases, the spacecraft will be taking nutrients for ‘left-handed’ and ‘right-handed’ life (which hearkens back to the space dinosaur article from a while ago) in order to see if there’s ‘left-handed’ life, ‘right-handed’ life, or no life at all.
A List for Likely Life: Every so often a new list of planets and moons we think might have life comes out. Generally, they all have the same basic essentials – Enceladus, Titan, Europa, and occasionally Mars. This is the list as of May 16, so it’s worth a look in light of new theories and analyses.
Lobsters in Space! Or Just Their Eyes: With a sort of ’80s B-movie title that just drags you in, this article discusses the relatively long-used practice of copying lobsters’ narrow eyes to see images based on light coming from many different angles. These newer lobster eyes could observe everything from gamma-ray bursts to merging black holes to the more mundane but equally important possibilities of ammonia leaks around the International Space Station.
Methane for Life, Life in Glaciers: A lot of moons in the solar system are covered in ice that is kilometers thick, and some of them have a good deal of methane. Because of all the ice, they’ve largely been considered as void of life or else with extremophile microbes in some potential water bodies beneath the ice. But NASA researchers are now investigating the organic production of methane to see if life could survive in ridiculously low temperatures after all. And, based on what researchers have found on the margins of Arctic ice, life might not only exist but exist in ridiculously high amounts of variety.
The Bounds of Both the Possible and the Impossible Have Been Challenged: We’ve created a lot of what science fiction has described: satellites and space exploration, Mars probes and moon travel. Of course, thanks to people who walked in both worlds of sci-fi production and technological invention like Robert Bussard, this advancement was pretty quick. But, according to this article, some constants will never be possible: time travel, high-speed space travel, even too much travel outside of the solar system. At the same time, science fiction has missed some important technological stuff in reality – like the Internet.
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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.