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Are we alone in the universe?

Mars was once habitable - so could we be Martians or Martians be Earthlings? Setting foot on the Red Planet could help us uncover these and more questions.

NASA 360 joins Dr. John Grunsfeld, former Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, as he discusses the potential for life on Mars and what it will take to make such a discovery.

This video was created from a live recording at the Humans to Mars Summit in May 2016.

Watch here: http://buff.ly/29RxMW2
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To decide whether there is or was life on Mars we don't need to send people. We need some sample-return missions. I think the whole Men-in-space thing is being oversold and it starves the real science by spending the lion's share of the money on simply keeping the people from dying.
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ALMA at sunset

ALMA — the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — resides high up in Chile's inhospitable Atacama desert region, where it observes the Universe at wavelengths in between the infra-red and radio regions of the spectrum. Here it is able to see the cold Universe, objects only a few degrees above absolute zero that include the very earliest stages of the formation of stars. It can also see far back into the history of the Universe, seeking out distant galaxies at early stages in their lifetimes.

Credit: ESO/M.Claro

Larger image: http://buff.ly/2anhCEA
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Newly discovered solar system objects resonate with Neptune

The search for distant solar system objects has found two more small worlds far outside the orbit of Neptune. The new objects are located beyond the Kuiper Belt, which is a belt of small icy objects just beyond Neptune, of which Pluto is a member. They have the third and fourth most-distant perihelia, which is when an object has its closest approach distance to the Sun, of any known solar system objects.

In addition, the orbital motions of these objects are in resonance with Neptune's orbit, which was somewhat unexpected. Their orbital paths imply that these worlds either have interacted with Neptune in the past or are continuing to do so – despite their great distances from the ice giant planet.

This latest discovery is based on observations made with the Subaru Telescope in Hawai'i and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) telescope in Chile, and is described in a paper published in the July 2016 edition of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Read more at: http://buff.ly/29ZmxvZ
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The Explorers Institute interviews our CEO, Bill Diamond.

What does SETI mean? "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence." But there is more to SETI than what you see in movies such as "Contact."

There are 75 scientists (the number is growing) at SETI currently working on planetary science, biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and more. Yes, they operate The Allen Telescope Array for doing radio astronomy research, but they are also a world leader in astrobiology--one of the hottest fields of science today, and one of the most interesting to the general public. Scientists at the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute are seeking answers to questions that will help us understand our origins: How many planets exist that might support life? What is required for life to exist? How does life start? How does it evolve, and what fabulous creatures can evolution produce? How often do intelligent creatures appear in the giant tapestry of life?

Watch here: http://buff.ly/29SBv0V
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NASA Mars Rover Can Choose Laser Targets on Its Own

Using software developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, Curiosity is now frequently choosing multiple targets per week for a laser and a telescopic camera that are parts of the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument. Most ChemCam targets are still selected by scientists discussing rocks or soil seen in images the rover has sent to Earth, but the autonomous targeting adds a new capability.

During Curiosity's nearly four years on Mars, ChemCam has inspected multiple points on more than 1,400 targets by detecting the color spectrum of plasmas generated when laser pulses zap a target -- more than 350,000 total laser shots at about 10,000 points in all. ChemCam's spectrometers record the wavelengths seen through a telescope while the laser is firing. This information enables scientists to identify the chemical compositions of the targets. Through the same telescope, the instrument takes images that are of the highest resolution available from the rover's mast.

Read more: http://buff.ly/29Q4qDD
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is using onboard software to select rocks to zap with its laser spectrometer and to autonomously point the instrument at the targets.
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From Viking to Mars 2020 – Searching for Habitability and Life on Mars

While Mars had appeared almost moon-like in the first orbital images returned during the flyby of Mariner 4 in 1965, its stunning geological diversity was revealed six years later by Mariner 9, when the opaque curtain of a global dust storm finally receded. We then discovered volcanoes and ancient lava flows, dry river beds and lakes, vast plains, and polar caps for the first time on another world. As the Martians and canals of Percival Lowell were forever exiled to the realm of myth, planetary exploration was entering a new era: searching for evidence of habitability and life beyond Earth.

The tens of thousands of images from the Viking mission became the foundation for understanding what early Mars could have been. They remained essential until the next generation of orbiters was launched 20 years later. But, aside from the remarkable images, the Viking mission has stayed in the popular imagination because of the three biological experiments it carried, and more specifically because of the lack of a definitive answer produced by them.

Beyond the debate, Viking taught a generation of scientists a fundamental lesson that is driving today’s exploration: The search for life cannot be separated from the understanding of the environment.

Read more: http://buff.ly/29OSfXP
By Nathalie A. Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center. Forty years ago, Viking 1 landed on the western slope of Chryse Planitia on Mars. The first spacecraft of two in this twin mission entered Mars' orbit on June 19, 1976. The lander separated from the orbiter on July 20 08:51 UTC, ...
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More like coverup
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Marvel's Rocket Raccoon and Groot Star on Space Station Mission Patch

The Marvel Comics' "Guardians of the Galaxy" characters, a talking raccoon and a sentient tree-like creature, star on the mission patch representing all of the science payloads launching in 2016 to the U.S. National Laboratory on board the orbiting outpost.

"We're really excited to take this on because we really like the whole idea of doing something for the space station," said Darren Sanchez, a Marvel Custom Solutions project manager and editor. "The patch is a really cool idea and to utilize a Marvel character for the space station for CASIS, that's a very cool project."

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, manages the U.S. National Lab under a contract with NASA. The non-profit made the announcement of the Marvel patch at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday (July 22).

Read more: http://buff.ly/29Rw8n8
Rocket Raccoon and Groot are launching to the International Space Station. The Marvel Comics characters star on the mission patch representing all of the payloads launching in 2016 to the U.S. National Laboratory on the orbiting outpost.
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The TED blog highlighted recent work of their community, including our own Nathalie Cabrol:

"A multidisciplinary search for extraterrestrial life. Nathalie Cabrol, director of the Carl Sagan Center for Research at the SETI Institute, proposed a broader approach to the search for extraterrestrial life in a paper published in Astrobiology on July 7. “To find ET, we must open our minds beyond a deeply rooted, Earth-centric perspective, expand our research methods and deploy new tools,” she writes. To push us beyond our anthropocentric vision of extraterrestrial life, she promotes the establishment of a Virtual Institute that will engage the global scientific community. SETI will be exploring resources for the Virtual Institute over the coming months."

More TED highlights: http://buff.ly/2a6c8fC?

Watch Natalie's TED talk: http://buff.ly/2a6bRJE
The TED community has been very busy over the past few weeks. Below, some newsy highlights. A major upgrade for prosthetics. After nearly a decade in development, Dean Kamen’s prosthetic arm is fin…
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The Nearest Exoplanets? They would be the closest worlds beyond the solar system.

If there are planets around the double star Alpha Centauri AB, they’re a mere 4 light-years distant, a remove so small we might actually be able to send space probes there in the foreseeable future.

However, everyone agrees that it would be considerably more interesting to explore this system if it houses a habitable world. To date, there’s no compelling evidence of any planets in the vicinity of the Centauri pair. Two scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Ruslan Belikov and Eduardo Bendek, think it’s possible to find out not only if such worlds exist, but also learn if any are habitable.

These scientists propose to launch a small telescope into orbit, outfitted with a device to block the blinding glow of the two stars, to search for habitable worlds. Because this is a special-purpose instrument, optimized for this one target only, it could be built for a relatively small amount of money. The SETI Institute is partnering with their project, both in technology development and fundraising.

Check out this video, and watch the intriguing story of Mission Centaur: http://buff.ly/2afxHe6
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Interesting billboard spotted in San Jose, CA. Anyone know what it means? http://buff.ly/2a0eTif
#islifeeverywhere
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Vhu. E. Channzo. Zzo. Caz. CH. Cged
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Dear Friends,

I’m Jill Tarter, a Trustee of the SETI Institute and the holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. I want to share some new developments in our SETI Programs by inviting you to watch the video we’ve created: http://buff.ly/29XERzF

I’ve spent my professional life searching for alien life. Over the span of my career, I’ve seen our equipment change dramatically, from custom built microchips and signal processors we had to design and build ourselves to the enterprise servers that run our search algorithms today.

But the two game-changers that have transformed our field are:
• The discovery that there are more planets than stars in the Milky Way and —
• The evidence of life thriving in the most extreme environments here on Earth.

The universe appears to be a lot more bio-friendly to life than we once thought. Now we want to find out if any of that potentially habitable real estate is actually inhabited.

SETI is a unique exploratory science that we began conducting in 1984 in partnership with NASA. Since 1993, however, we’ve had to rely on private sources of funding to continue this search that costs us $590,000 annually to cover staff and basic equipment. We need to raise $70,000 this summer to stay on track. Please consider making a donation to support the Campaign for SETI.

The SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array scans the sky for signals 365 days a year. It is the only facility that searches for SETI signals in near real time and thus it can better filter out interference from our own technologies. Nimble and efficient, it costs $625 to observe all 9 billion 1 hertz-wide radio channels in the direction of a single star. And we can turn its attention immediately towards any star that shows promise, as we did earlier this year when star KIC 8462852 blinked at us in a most peculiar way from 1400 light years away.

Our tools are improving daily, but we need your help to keep them scanning the skies. Because it’s a pretty big search out there with so many exoplanets having the potential for life, and so many different types of signals to examine.

We must rely on friends like you to help us raise the funds needed to support this work. Your gift during our Campaign for SETI of $50, $100, $150 or more will sustain these critical optical and radio SETI research projects and allow us to continue innovating in our quest for extraterrestrial signals.

Thank you for helping support new frontiers of human understanding.

Warm regards,

Jill Tarter
Director, Center of SETI Research
Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI
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Is it not time to wrap it all up and go home?Even if Man did go past alien's his indifference would never allow him to acknowledge them to the rest of us.
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Featured Image: Supernova Remnants in the LMC

These vibrant images (click for the full view!) of supernova remnants in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) were created by mapping data from the Chandra X-ray Telescope into three colors: red for 300–720 eV, green for 720–1100 eV, and blue for 1100–7000 eV. Three scientists at University of Texas at Arlington — Andrew Schenck, Sangwook Park, and Seth Post — created these maps in order to probe the composition of the LMC’s interstellar medium. The forward shocks of supernova remnants sweep up the interstellar medium as they expand, heating it and causing it to emit the X-rays that Chandra observes. Schenck, Park and Post used Chandra’s observations of these remnants to make new measurements of the interstellar metallicities in the LMC. To find out more, check out the paper below!

Citation: Andrew Schenck et al 2016

Full image: http://buff.ly/29XdMQ2
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Our mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.
Introduction

We believe we are conducting the most profound search in human history — to know our beginnings and our place among the stars.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.

The Institute comprises 3 centers, the Center for SETI Research, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and the Center for Education and Public Outreach.

Founded in November 1984, the SETI Institute began operations on February 1, 1985. Today it employs over 120 scientists, educators and support staff. Research at the Institute is anchored by two centers. Dr. Gerry Harp leads the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research and  Dr. David Morrison is the Director for the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. Edna DeVore leads our Center for Education and Public Outreach.