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Space Science

EPOXI Team Develops New Method To Find Alien Ocean 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-space-nobody-can-hear-you-swim dept.
Matt_dk writes "Astronomers have found more than 300 alien (extrasolar) worlds so far. Most of these are gas giants like Jupiter, and are either too hot (too close to their star) or too cold (too far away) to support life as we know it. Sometime in the near future, however, astronomers will probably find one that's just right — a planet with a solid surface that's the right distance for a temperature that allows liquid water — an essential ingredient in the recipe for life. Now scientists looking back at Earth with the Deep Impact/EPOXI mission have developed a method to indicate whether Earth-like extrasolar worlds have oceans."
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EPOXI Team Develops New Method To Find Alien Ocean

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  • by voogzy (1418593) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:16PM (#28117453)
    why should water be essential for life? and how do you define life anyway?
  • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:36PM (#28117633) Journal
    how do you define life anyway?

    Defining Life [tornatore.com]
  • As We Know It (Score:1, Interesting)

    by bruciferofbrm (717584) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:52PM (#28117777) Homepage

    Water as we know it contains Oxygen. Buy one, get the other for no extra charge.

    Life as we know it is the rub here. Are we looking for planets that will potentially have life forms that are some how similar to those we know of on our own world?

    Or are we really looking for a place to colonize one day?

    If it is the later, then looking for water is logical.

    If it is not, then really, open your mind and realize that 'life as we know it' is a very short sighted perspective. Out there in the universe is a silicon based civilization looking for worlds bathed in methane simply because it is quite obvious to anyone intelligent that this is the only type of work the 'life as they know it' could possible have a chance of being created.

    Oh, and I would suggest opening your mind to broader horizons because some of those oxygen breathing, water oriented life forms I know can be real bastards.

  • Gas giants (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dasher42 (514179) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:56PM (#28117811)

    Considering the likelihood of a gas giant to have many moons of significant size, why do we insist on a planet in the goldilocks zone? Here we are considering Europa and Callisto for possible subsurface oceans, and even life, and how would it be to have moons in that orbital slot?

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:17PM (#28117985)

    So if I got this right from TFA, they can tell there are oceans by how the amount of blue light changes? Doesn't it assume that the planet in question has large continents? I mean if the planet was pure ocean on the surface, then it'd always be a uniform display of blue. So basically what they do is detect different patches of colour, and if they find blue patches in the mix they'll assume they're oceans, am I right?

    Also, using this technique of variation of light, couldn't they build a very crude longitudinal colour map of the planet? I mean, it would probably look like taking a map of Earth, squishing it to a height of 1 pixel in Photoshop and stretching it back, but they could get something like that, right?

  • by jschen (1249578) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:34PM (#28118093)

    and how do you define life anyway?

    Good question. There's lots of ways, but my personal preference in this context is a system that expends energy in order to combat entropy. Once you stop combatting entropy, you head towards thermodynamic equilibrium, and are dead. This definition may be overly broad (by that definition, my computer's memory chips are alive), but I suspect that if we find something that meets these criteria, it will be associated with life.

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