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The Rio Scale: Quantifying the Consequences of an ET Discovery
Topic: Alien Life
The Rio Scale index (RSI) provides a way to estimate the significance for our civilization of contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence.

Detecting Life on Planets that Orbit White Dwarf Stars
Topic: Alien Life
A white dwarf is a dead star that slowly cools down until it fades into oblivion. Yet it has been predicted that habitable planets can orbit a white dwarf. If we can somehow detect these planets, would we also be able to spot signs of life?

At Last, How Many Alien Civilizations are There?
Topic: Alien Life
Frank Drake’s famous equation for estimating alien life has been altered by one scientist to create the “Statistical Drake Equation”. The results provide good news for the SETI community.

Do Aliens Use Hairspray?
Topic: Alien Life
Chemicals such as those found in hairspray might one day serve as signs that aliens have reshaped distant worlds, researchers say.

Colors of ExoEarths Could Indicate Habitability
Topic: Alien Life
When direct detection of Earth-like planets becomes possible, scientists want to be able to easily characterize these planets and see which ones might be suitable for alien life. A new technique shows how the unique colors of particular environments known to harbor extremophile life on Earth can be detected remotely.

Can Astronomers Detect Exoplanet Oceans?
Topic: Alien Life
Detecting water on the surface of exoplanets is becoming a high priority for researchers, as surface water is considered a requirement for habitability. New research examines whether or not the “glint” of light from a planet can be interpreted as evidence for surface oceans.

SETI on the SKA
Topic: Alien Life
Can the Square Kilometer Array – a network of thousands of radio antennas to be based in South Africa and Australia -- be used to hunt for extraterrestrial signals?

Far-Out Photosynthesis
Topic: Alien Life
Photosynthesis maintains Earth's habitability for life as we know it, and shapes the way we search for habitable worlds around distant stars. Scientists have discovered a microbe that can use low-energy light to perform photosynthesis. This discovery could alter theories about the types of stars that could support Earth-like worlds.

Extending the Habitable Zone for Red Dwarf Stars
Topic: Alien Life
Scientists have long thought that planets had to orbit very close to small and dim red dwarf stars in order to be warm enough for life. New research challenges that assumption.

Tidal Forces Could Squeeze Out Planetary Water
Topic: Alien Life
Alien planets might experience tidal forces powerful enough to remove all their water, leaving behind hot, dry worlds like Venus.
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