3.31.2015

More Habitable Planets than Earth

As far as habitability goes, Earth may occupy the lower end of the spectrum.

(image courtesy of NASA)


Discoveries of potentially habitable planets orbiting stars other than our sun—exoplanets, that is—are challenging our definitition of habitability, says a recent article by Rene Heller in Scientific American.

Are we on the fringe of 'habitiability'? The idea is astounding. Earth teems with life and wonder. What would a planet more suited to life be like?

Since we're surrounded by worlds less hospitable than our own, it's hard to imagine. Would there be more biodiversity? Less competition to survive? Would more than one intelligent species evolve?

Superhabitable is the term used for planets more livable than our own. What characteristics beyond the essentials of tectonics, volcanic activity, water, atmosphere, magnetosphere, etc..., would these worlds have?

1.  Earth sits on the edge of the habitable zone from the Sun. So worlds more inside 'the zone' would be more habitable.

2.  A different star. Our lovely G star has a short lifespan relative to other stars. Scientists conclude a K star, one with a longer life and less mass, would give life a longer time to evolve. ( Erika Nesvold, Astrobites)

3.  A less stable orbit. Mild changes really disrupt life on Earth. A planet with a slightly changing, eccentric orbit could produce tidal heating, which would make it superhabitable. (see Astrobites)

How do you imagine 'more habitable'?

25 comments:

  1. An interesting thought.
    I suspect for a planet to remain more habitable, whichever dominant species populates it, would have to learn from its mistakes rather quicker than we do.
    I also fascinated by the concept that other lifeforms might thrive in an enviroment which would see to our extinction. There seems no logical reason that another lifeform would have the same requirements. Perhaps oxygen is unnecessary. Or water. Or light.

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    1. If the sun lives longer, a species will have longer to evolve and become better. They'd most likely be different. I think the idea is fascinating.

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  2. I just read the 5th Wave and this was it exactly! Aliens invaded Earth because we had everything they needed. But they wanted us gone 0_o

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    1. Ooo! I'll have to check that out.

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  3. Maybe several highly evolved species, evolved along different lines under far more variable environment circumstance, to create more radical and efficient adaptabilities? I suppose I said that out of a human centric point of view. We have many highly evolved species here now. We just think we're the only ones because of our big brains and thumbs I guess. Cockroaches can survive anything. I guess I don't know what would make a planet more habitable, and for what? Human life? Or long term survival of biodiverse life?

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    1. lol, our big thumbs. It's hard to get out of our humancentric brains to imagine it. If the planet survives longer, the higher species would most likely become way more advanced than us.

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    2. It is hard to remove oneself from oneself to see a different perspective.

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  5. Is there one with no mosquitoes? I'd call that superhabitable.
    I can see why this planet is on the marginal end of the spectrum. We can be wiped out by comets, solar flares, extreme weather. Of course, if Earth is really the insane asylum of the universe, it stands to reason. Why waste resources on finding a better place to stash us?

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  6. A very interesting perspective. No mosquitoes would be a great planet.

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  7. That's such an interesting thing to think of, and yet it boggles the mind.

    I'm thinking, though, that such a world might not be very technologically advanced if it's inhabited, since a huge amount of our technological achievements are driven by necessity. On the other hand, if they have an easier time with getting basic needs sorted, it might be easier for them to kick our ass.

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    1. It is mind-boggling. With no known comparison, it's hard for me to imagine, but an interesting thought puzzle.

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  8. It is interesting to think of, and I'm not really sure I can imagine it . . . I like the variety of geology that we have here, and I'm not sure if a more stable environment would have that. Would the Grand Canyon and the Himalayas exist in a more stable environment? Would it be more uniform? That could be good or bad.

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    1. There would still need to be plate tectonics, so volcanos and mountains would still exist, and a shifting of continents.

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  9. More habitable, for whom? I suspect hummingbirds, whales and amoeba would all have vastly different answers. :)

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    1. lol Very true and a great answer.

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  10. More habitable? Hmm, I definitely could see there being more intelligent lifeforms of different types.

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    1. I wonder if as a species you know you have a longer lifespan, that extinction is rare, whether there'd be less competition. Although, I don't suppose all the species would be vegetarians.

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  11. How fascinating. I never thought of Earth being on the lower end of the habitable spectrum. Yet I do see the advantages planets with other characteristics have. I do wonder if having more moons help or no moon, or even habitable moons.

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    1. From what I read, having moons helps. Tidal friction seems to be a factor in likelihood of life.

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  12. Wow! This made my blond head hurt:) I Can not see how we could be the only creatures in the universe and that our earth is the only type to sustain life. I also think more like Star Trek than Invaders. Maybe I am going off topic here but I can see where life forms that we may not be able to imagine could live together with aliens like us

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  13. Hi Mary - we could do with some input into our brains to live more harmoniously together ... I suspect we'll implode ourselves somewhere sometime ... the earth will sort itself out, as it always has ... life may evolve again ... it's all changing here on earth, and in the universe and always has ...

    Habitable - we're fine as we are ... as long as some idiot doesn't do something stupid and then that will be it ... we need our brains to function with peaceful thoughts ... Cheers Hilary

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  14. I agree we need that input. Cheers!

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  15. The diversity of our planet has made us as strong as we are. We owe a lot of the abilities that we have to the differences in the environment, the weather, and the climate. No pressure no diamonds,,,,,,,,, no grit no pearl.

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