Who’s Out There…Anyone On Mars? Anyone Anywhere? 3 min read

Looking for exoplanets that might harbor life and being realistic about  the effort, both come clear in Elizabeth Tasker’s book entitled “The Planet Factory–Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth, Bloomsburb
Publishing Plc, New York and London, 2017. Another good source of information can be found at NASA’s Exoplanet Archive at  exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu. 

The problem of time’s length and the trauma that a young planet can sustain make the search for habitable exoplanets similar to finding needles in haystacks. One example is the history of Mars.

Mars is very small because Jupiter cruised into our inner solar system in the early years “gathering and scattering planetesimals.” Mars has a nice circular orbit, 10% as compared to Earth’s 1%, which means any collisions with early solid objects would collide slowly if at all.

Mars is also within the maximum temperate zone (.84 to 1.7 au) of our solar system, and it probably had surface water 3.8 billion years ago. However, it was apparently too cold to experience plate tectonics, as Earth has. Since it has a larger surface area for its volume, its interior heat was lost rapidly, which stopped the convection flow
between the planet’s mantle and core.

Four billion years ago a moon-size object hit Mars, which didn’t help matters. This tilted the surface so the northern surface was lower than the south, and thinner. Heat increased and the magnetic field was lost
in the north.

The sun has also been a nuisance for life that might have started on Mars. On March 8, 2015, NASA’s MAVEN spotted an impact on Mars of the sun’s coronal mass. The solar wind, that usually depletes Mars of gas at
100 grams per second, was bumped by a factor of ten. Not nice.

One thing becomes quite clear as I struggle through the too-clever jargon and verbiage of Elizabeth Tasker’s book “The Planet Factory”
(Bloombury Sagin, London and New York 2017): Our Milky Way seems to be filled with a wide variety of exoplanets orbiting all kinds of suns–so far none of which come close to being habitable.

Our early sun was probably more excitable. It led to Mars losing its magnetic field and eventually its “thicker, warm atmosphere.” Planet Earth has had better luck, time and time again according to Ward and
Brownlee’s 2000 classic: “Rare Earth–Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe.”

It took a long list of lucky happenstances to produce the habitable planet Earth. Most of us are not going anywhere else, so we’d better take care of it: its precious gifts of potable water and edible flora and fauna–so astoundingly unlike our exoplanet neighbors.


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-
ArchivesofVarok.com
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

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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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