Who’s Out There–Something on Pluto?3 min read

While the COVID-19 virus threatens human lives and disrupts our entire
world, impacting normal human interactions, we should probably take a
moment to reflect about who we are, where we are, and what we can do to

The more we learn about our Milky Way Galaxy, the more we realize how
unique Earth is. At the same time, we can fall into the trap of assuming
that because we can see other planets orbiting other stars–because we
can learn what they are like, how they orbit, and what they are made
of–we can somehow choose one to visit and eventually colonize.

After all, we’re filling up this Earth, so shouldn’t we “ …begin
creating atmospheres on suitable moons or planets?” (“Tetan-ick,” an
anti-gravity article by Steve Minsk, Scientific American, April 2020,
page 68.)

The increasing familiarity of our sun’s planets can too easily leave us
with the notion that they are accessible, even handy, ready to house
humans, who will soon need more lebensraum. It goes with the assumption
that human life will “…likely survive for hundreds of millions of
So far, no species has ever lasted that long on Earth.

Does the new discovery that cyanobacteria can do photosynthesis in
extreme red low light mean we can terraform Mars? (See Minsky’s article
referring to a June 2018 Science article.) Steve Minsky reminds us that
Titan might be “better than the moon or Mars” for humans to live, but
“all life requires water.” He quotes Donald Canfield, author of the book
“Oxygen: A Four-Billion Year History.” Titan is a long way from Earth.

The latest findings suggest that Mars once had “a thick atmosphere and
abundant surface water.” Unfortunately, Mars lost most of its magnetic
field, which caused the rapid loss of its atmosphere. This is bad news
for the Red Dwarfs–the most common type of star in the
universe–because they have strong “stellar winds and extreme
ultraviolet radiation.” (Zastrow, M. (2020) Eos, 101,

Do our sun and our life-giving distance from it present a rare scene in
our Milky Way Galaxy? Life may not be as common in the universe as we
assume, when we take ours for granted. Maybe there is a moon of Jupiter
or Saturn that would do. At least they are a lot closer than any of the
common Red Dwarf stars. The more we learn, the more interesting Pluto

This month Jo Anna Wendel reported that millions of years ago an
asteroid struck Pluto, creating waves that impacted half of the planet.
Details found by NASA’s New Horizons spacecract in July 2015 describe
“geologically active ice mountains…oozing, nitrogen, ice glaciers, and a
thin…atmosphere of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane.” Revealed was
a “thick internal ocean and a core…potentially habitable to life.”
(EOS,101 eos.doi.org/10.1029/2020EO142337)

Details of the depth and floor of Pluto’s ocean are not known, but there
are “geological features that resemble grabens on Earth. On Pluto these
are strips of plateaus and valleys that might have formed when the
asteroid struck Pluto on the opposite side. The core and interior ocean
could have acted as a lens to focus the impact of the asteroid strike.
It could suggest that Pluto has a serpentine core along with its
subsurface ocean, which could be “conducive to life in some capacity.”
NASA is taking this into account while planning future missions…which
(also) opens up what’s possible for (other) Kuiper Belt objects…”

The more we learn, the more options for life elsewhere seem possible.

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. )

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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