I have to admit I’m not eager to take a space trip. I’d rather settle down with my large book featuring full color photographs of our neighboring planets and their moons, or dip myself into the latest news from TESS and CHEOPS, or review the seven Earth-size planets reported by TRAPPIST-1 and note how the various solar systems impact their planets, how they differ from our own near-neighbors. I like to imagine what life
might be like in order to survive somewhere out there.
How would biochemistry work on the methane lakes we might find? How would a CO2 planet deal with the life challenge? We might not find many oxygen atmospheres out there. It’s difficult to detect. After its launch in 2021, JWST will be able to look for water on exoplanets.
PLATO, scheduled for launch in 2026 will have 24 telescopes that will give us the age of stars And in 2029 WEBB will be able to spot water and carbon dioxide on planets beyond our solar system. TESS has been out there for a year already. Out of its 850 candidates it has “discovered 21 planets,” according to NASA’s July 26 report. They range in size from 80% Earth-size to Jupiter/Saturn sizes and are “…within a few dozen
light years of our solar system.” (The Week august 16, 2019, page 21.
Some of the most interesting exoplanets are in orbit around the M-dwarf GJ357 It is 31 light years from Earth, 1/3 our sun’s mass and 40% cooler than our sun. Planet “a” is just outside the habitable zone, but is very hot and twice the size of Earth. Planet “b” is 22% of Earth’s size and much closer to GJ357 than Mercury is to our sun, probably rocky. Planet “c” is cooler, about 260 F,3.4 times Earth’s mass with an titled orbit
Planet “d” is the most interesting,a candidate for life, since it is about as far from its sun as Mars is from our sun. It has a dense atmosphere at -64 F. It is 6.1 times Earth’s mass, about the same size, and orbits its sun in55.7 days. We’ll watch planet GJ357 d as data accumulates. Next month I’ll review the findings of CHEOPS.
Details of other suns and their planets have been noted, but they are too hot and large or not to large but too close to their sun to be cool enough to harbor life as we know it. Hot life? Probably not. Though we need to keep our minds open to unEarthly possibilities, it also makes sense to trust what we know about chemistry and physics when looking for exolife.
Cheers, Cary Neeper–
Author of The Archives of Varok
The View Beyond Earth (Book 1.)
The Webs of Varok (Book 2.)
Nautilus Silver Award 2013 YA
ForeWord IBPA finalist 2012 adult SF
The Alien Effect (Book 3.)
An Alien’s Quest (Book 4. Released Nov.21, 2016)
Excerpts, Synopses, Reviews, On Writing, Characters and More-
Reviews of significant books- www.goodreads.com/Cary_Neeper
How the Hen House Turns- www.ladailypost.com
Complexity, Bio, Bibliography and Links- caryneeper.com
Astrobiology- astronaut.com search:Who’s Out There