Using the Web

1a.
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Go to the online Astrobiology Magazine (http://astrobio.net), which covers many topics included in this chapter. Under “Hot Topics” and then “Origins,” click on “Extreme Life.” What are some new findings about extremophiles? Why is this a hot topic for astrobiologists?
1b.
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Go to the “Life, Unbounded” blog (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/life-unbounded). What is a recent topic of interest? Is the discussion based on some new data? A new theory?
2a.
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Solar System space missions:

Go to the website for the Cassini mission to Saturn (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov). Is it still collecting data? What has been found recently on one of the moons that would be of interest to astrobiologists?
2b.
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Go to the website for the Mars Science Laboratory (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission). The rover Curiosity landed on the surface in August 2012. What are the science goals of this mission, and how do they relate to astrobiology? What are some recent results?
2c.
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The next Mars mission, MAVEN (http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven), is scheduled for launch in late 2013, with arrival in 2014. What are the science goals of this mission? Why are astrobiologists interested in the history of Mars’s climate and atmosphere? Are there any results?
3.
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Go to the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog website (http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog). Click on “Methods” to read about the different criteria for evaluating a planet’s habitability. How many confirmed habitable exoplanets are there? How many candidates? How might the number of confirmed exoplanets affect the terms in the Drake equation?
4a.
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Go to the website for the Kepler Space telescope (http://kepler.nasa.gov); click on “News” and then “Planet-finding News.” What is a recent discovery of a planet in the habitable zone? What is a recent discovery of a planet with an interesting atmosphere?
4b.
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Go to the website for the European Space Agency (ESA) Gaia mission (http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=26), scheduled for launch in 2013. What are the science objectives of this mission? Click on “Extra-solar Planets” on the left. How will Gaia identify new planets? What properties of the planet will it be able to measure? Has this mission been launched? What’s new?
5a.
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Go to the website for the Zooniverse citizen science project SETILive (http://setilive.org), which uses Allen Telescope Array observations of Kepler exoplanet candidates to look for interesting signals. How were the targets selected for observation? Click on “Classify” and then “Signals”. What types of signals are picked up that are not from extraterrestrial aliens? Watch the tutorial and video under “Classify.” If the ATA is observing, look at some data. What happens if several citizen scientists report finding something interesting?
5b.
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Go to the website for SETI@home (http://setiathome.berkeley.edu). What is this project? What are the advantages of using many online computers instead of one supercomputer? Under “About,” read “About SETI@home” and “Science status.” Then click on “Participate” (under “...more”). To get started, you will need to download, install, and run the BOINC software. What do you think will happen if someone detects a positive signal?

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