World Science Scholars

2.6 Life as a Planetary Phenomenon

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    • Dr. Sasselov says that we need to significantly broaden our understanding of life in order to search for life on other worlds, but the type of planet we are searching for is similar to our own. Is the search for super-Earths limiting? Do you think we are right to ignore other types of planets, like gas giants, in our search for extraterrestrial life? Explain your answer.

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    • As mentioned during the talk, the geochemical composition of the planet plays a crucial role in supporting life. Gas giants like Jupiter, given their unique chemical composition, are highly unlikely to support any potential life forms as we define life on Earth. Therefore, it is useful not to consider such gas giants while searching for extraterrestrial life. However, they can have large terrestrial satellites that could exist in the habitable zone, and therefore, it would be right to consider them but only for their satellites and not the planet itself.

      • I absolutely agree with you on this. There is need to take into consideration what type of planet to research on. However just as you mentioned, scientist should also take notes of other satellites in their habitable zones.

    • I think we should keep an open mind but for now we should focus on Earth-like planets since they seem to provide a higher chance of finding life than others. As technology improves, we could broaden up our observation to other non-Earth like planets.

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