Who’s Out There–Anyone Nearby?3 min read

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.

OHB System will build the PLATO spacecraft and its instruments at OHB Optics & Science Space Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Credit: OHB System

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
of 9.1

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


Cary Neeper is an avid student of complexity theory, sustainability, steady-state economics, and the impact of cosmology on issues of science and religion. She grew up in the foothills of Hayward, California, where she helped rack dried fruit on her father’s 40-acre apricot ranch. After studying zoology/chemistry and religion at Pomona College and medical microbiology at the University of Wisconsin, she moved with her husband to northern New Mexico, where they raised their family. The Neepers still live in the Southwest with a friendly menagerie of dogs, fish, chickens, geese, ducks and a turkey called Little Bear. Cary plays string bass with local folk, symphony and jazz groups and tennis with local retired physicists. She paints landscapes in acrylics, including the cover art for her first Penscript title, The Webs of Varok. Cary's first novel and Webs of Varok prequel A Place Beyond Man was originally published in 1975 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, Dell, and Millington, London. Cary re-released A Place Beyond Man as an Author’s Guild Backinprint edition, now available from online booksellers. Its themes of sustainability and interspecies cooperation have now grown into new adventures for its human, elll and varok family as they travel the alternate 21st century Solar System in the five-volume Archives of Varok, coming from Penscript Publishing House in 2012–2014. Cary’s other works include two musical science fiction comedies “U.F.F.D.A.!” and “Petra and the Jay,” as well as newspaper and magazine articles, essays, short stories, and book reviews for The Christian Science Monitor.

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