Study shows some exoplanets may have greater variety of life than exists on Earth

phys.org | 8/13/2019 | Staff
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A new study indicates that some exoplanets may have better conditions for life to thrive than Earth itself has. "This is a surprising conclusion," said lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Olson, "it shows us that conditions on some exoplanets with favourable ocean circulation patterns could be better suited to support life that is more abundant or more active than life on Earth."

The discovery of exoplanets has accelerated the search for life outside our solar system. The huge distances to these exoplanets means that they are effectively impossible to reach with space probes, so scientists are working with remote sensing tool such as telescopes, to understand what conditions prevail on different exoplanets. Making sense of these remote observations requires the development of sophisticated models for planetary climate and evolution to allow scientists to recognize which of these distant planets that might host life.

Synthesis - Work - Keynote - Lecture - Goldschmidt

Presenting a new synthesis of this work in a Keynote Lecture at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Congress in Barcelona, Dr. Stephanie Olson (University of Chicago) describes the search to identify the best environments for life on exoplanets:

"NASA's search for life in the Universe is focused on so-called 'habitable zone' planets, which are worlds that have the potential for liquid water oceans. But not all oceans are equally hospitable—and some oceans will be better places to live than others due to their global circulation patterns."

Olson - Team - Conditions - Types - Exoplanets

Olson's team modelled likely conditions on different types of exoplanets using the ROCKE-3-D software, developed by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), to simulate the climates and ocean habitats of different types of exoplanets.

"Our work has been aimed at identifying the exoplanet oceans which have the greatest capacity to host globally abundant and active life. Life in Earth's oceans depends on upwelling (upward flow) which returns nutrients from the dark depths of the ocean to the sunlit...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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