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Habitable Zones & Global Climate: September 2019


In the past decade, observations from space and ground have found H2O to be the most abundant molecular species, after hydrogen, in the atmospheres of hot, gaseous, extrasolar planets. Being the main molecular carrier of oxygen, H2O is a tracer of the origin and the evolution mechanisms of planets.

In The Little Prince, the classic novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the titular prince lives on a house-sized asteroid so small that he can watch the sunset any time of day by moving his chair a few steps.

Ever since the discovery of the first exoplanet, astronomers have made steady progress towards finding and probing planets in the habitable zone of their host stars, where the conditions could be right for liquid water to form and life to sprawl.

The discovery of planets orbiting stars other than the Sun has accelerated over the past decade, and this trend will continue as new space- and ground-based observatories employ next-generation instrumentation to search the skies for habitable worlds.

Liquid water oceans are at the center of our search for life on exoplanets because water is a strict requirement for life as we know it. However, oceans are dynamic habitats--and some oceans may be better hosts for life than others.

Astronomical calculations reveal the solar system's dynamical evolution, including its chaoticity, and represent the backbone of cyclostratigraphy and astrochronology.

This paper reviews habitability conditions for a terrestrial planet from the point of view of geosciences. It addresses how interactions between the interior of a planet or a moon and its atmosphere and surface (including hydrosphere and biosphere) can affect habitability of the celestial body.