Tuesday, August 29, 2006

H.G. Wells to get BBC treatment

The BBC is to broadcast an ambitious drama starring Michael Sheen as H.G. Wells. The BBC press release says of the 90 minute "A Life In Pictures", "Every word spoken by HG Wells in the film is his own, taken from his autobiography and other writings. The film mixes futuristic animation with drama to tell the story of this visionary writer." I'm particularly intrigued by the reference to animation. Does this mean we are going to get a fresh look at The War Of The Worlds with the correct period setting? Broadcast is scheduled for Winter 2006. Sally Hawkins (Fingersmith, Vera Drake, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky) plays Wells'lover Rebecca West.

Clouds riding high on Mars

The European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express spacecraft has discovered the highest clouds yet detected above the surface of a planet. The Earth has clouds that top out at about 52 miles, but clouds on Mars reach up to 62 miles. (100 kilometers) The clouds on Mars are thought to be made of Carbon Dioxide. There are no pictures available as the detection was made by the means of ultraviolet and infrared instruments on the orbiter. The orbiter looked at stars just before they were eclipsed by Mars and saw them dim, the telltale sign of clouds in the atmosphere. Says Franck Montmessin, a French researcher on the camera team, "If you wanted to see these clouds from the surface of Mars, you would probably have to wait until after sunset."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Has life on Mars been blown away?

Sushil Atreya, a University of Michigan professor in the Department of Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Sciences thinks so. His paper "Oxidant Enhancement in Martian Dust Devils and Storms: Implications for Life and Habitability" suggests that storms and dust devils would produce oxidants that would destroy any chance for life to get to grips on the surface, since any organic material would be scavenged efficiently by the surface oxidants. Of course this is not the end of the story by any means. This blog has reported numerous arguments for and against life on Mars, and until a human being gets there to conduct indepth exploration, I think we can still cling to the idea that Earth is not the only home to life in our solar system. For a detailed report on Professor Atreya's findings, go to spaceref.