October 21, 2017

Review: Confessions of an Alien Hunter by Seth Shostak.

Seth Shostak has a unique tale of scientific inquiry to tell. At its heart are questions that some of the greatest thinkers of our time such as Jill Tarter and Carl Sagan have pondered; are we alone? Why are we here? How common or unique are we as a species?

Only very recently has the topic and field of exobiology become a respectable science, and Confessions of an Alien Hunter by Mr. Shostak and out by Nation Geographic Press reflects on how far we’ve come in this very elusive field and where we might be headed. [Read more...]

24.10.09: Enceladan Seas?

Move over Europa ; yet another moon may harbor a subsurface sea. Saturn’s moon Enceladus has been inching its way up the charts as of late as a candidate world for extraterrestrial life. Barely 300 miles in diameter, the tiny world is repeatedly flexed by Saturn’s gravity and an increased orbital eccentricity pumped up by the nearby moon Dione. This has caused the tiger-striped surface seen by the Cassini space probe, a surface that shows evidence of repeated fissuring and freezing that almost certainly covers a liquid interior. In fact, Cassini has caught several of the geysers in the act during four recent flybys of the moon. One flyby was close enough that Cassini actually flew through a geyser plume! Activity on Enceladus is now known to almost exclusively contribute to Saturn’s E ring…and recently, a much broader ring system has been revealed by the Spitzer space telescope. Sodium chloride has also been detected in the E ring, presumably from the interior of Enceladus…clearly, the Saturnian system is a dynamic place warranting more scrutiny. Let’s hope that NASA approves Cassini’s seven year mission extension!