Kenneth Carroll

Think Deeper?

Are we alone in the universe? The age-old question that humans have been asking since the emergence of intellectual and cognitive thought. From religion to science, trying to reach out to the stars have lead to the advancements of life changing technology, from the development of rocket science to reach the moon, to the simple pleasures in life such as tang. The discover of exoplanets and the quick advancements of exoplanetary science has made the search for life out in the universe more exciting because of the ability to reach past our solar system. With current technology, only the surface of planets and be observed and researched, however is this enough to find life? One may argue that the surface of the planet is where we will find life, however this thought may limit scientists on there quest to find life. Perhaps we need to look deeper and explore beneath the ice or explore liquid planets such as Neptune.

Liquid worlds are excellent place to look for life. These worlds satisfy all the necessities for life: 1) a source of energy 2) essential elements and 3) a solvent1. Whether under ice or completely exposed, the oceans provide an abundance of medium necessary for chemical process or organisms to occur and develop. Oceans can occur under ice, and the liquid must obtain energy needed to drive chemical/biological processes from a different source other than its host star. It is safe to assume that all planets have a core. It is also safe to assume that at one point this core provided immense heat. This heat would have to escape from vents within the depths. The escape through hydro vents provide the energy necessary to drive chemical and biological processes that can create a biomass underneath the ice.2The earth has an ocean that is under explored. If a focus is shifts to researching ocean depths, it could aide in the exploration of water worlds. Also, if the focus is shift to water worlds there are moons and planets that we can explore in our own solar system. By focusing on our own solar system, we would increase our probability to understand life processes on other planets.

 

Resources

  1. Abrevaya, X. et al. “The Astrobiology Primer.” Astrobiology (2016), Volume 16 Number 8; Mary Ann Leibert, Inc.
  2. Choi, Charles. “Could Shallow Biospheres Exist Beneath the Icy Ceilings of Ocean Moons?” Astrobiology Magazine (March 2018).

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Replies to This Discussion

I really liked your input and optimism for finding life on exoplanets and liquid planets.  Since we are able to observe exoplanets in different ways with our technology, I think that we are more likely to find life on them.  I am also interested to see how scientists tackle the challenge of looking beneath the surface of some of the icy and water dominated planets.

As our technology develops, how long do you think it will be until we discover some sort of life – 10, 20 100+ years? 

I absolutely agree that we need to look beyond the surface of planets if we wish to find life. Icy moons like Europa and Enceladus almost certainly don't have life on the surface, but may contain some form of it below their icy exteriors. I have never heard of exploring Neptune in the search for life, but I suppose it is possible as well. For me, exploring all the planets and moons in our solar system is the best ways to search for life right now due to the relatively close proximity of so many potential hosts.

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