Thursday, January 05, 2012

Exoplanet's Moons Might Be the Best Bet For Finding Life

Habitable moons....somehow the thought is attractive. I am reading an article on IO9 that makes a good argument for finding extra-solar forms of life be found on habitable moons. This is how the numbers stack up.  Scientist have presently discovered 716 exo-planets, the problem being that to contain life they must be positioned in the narrow "life" zone that supports liquid water and most of the discovered worlds are gas giants, in to close to their primary and therefor way too hot.  But there are over a hundred planets discover that ARE in the habitable zone. But in a cruel twist, most of these are also gas giants.

Scientists have started to speculate about the moons that may well circle these gas giants.  Since they too would be in the habitable zone they could be a very real possibility.   None of course have been discovered to this date, but that is hardly a surprise.  Just finding the planets themselves is a daunting procedure,  uncovering exo-moons is much more so.

Right now with the present detection capabilities of the most powerful telescopes and space based platforms can not detect a moon much  smaller than 1.3 times the size of Earth.  That is a very real area of concern.  Many of the moons we consider good candidates for life in our own solar system fall well below that mark.

Read the complete IO9 article that describes the difficulty of detecting these small worlds.  HERE

Another good reference article here in Centauri Dreams

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