Exoplanets & Exomoons

Orbital Properties And Implications For The Initiation Of Plate Tectonics And Planetary Habitability

By Keith Cowing
February 22, 2022
Filed under
Orbital Properties And Implications For The Initiation Of Plate Tectonics And Planetary Habitability
The shaded plane represents the constancy of orbital period for the Earth calculated to be 24.35 hours per degree over geologic time. Based on the available data for the lengths of the day24 the probable paths of the Earth’s sidereal rotation period over geologic time extrapolated for Phanerozoic and for Proterozoic are shown on the plane. Every planet with an unperturbed orbit would have a similar plane and depending upon factors such as internal differentiation and external causes such as a retreating satellite, the rotational period of the planet could be influenced.

The existence of plate tectonics on the Earth is directly dependent on the internal viscosity contrast, mass of the planet, availability of liquid water and an internal heat source.

However, the initial conditions of rotational velocity and revolutionary periodicity of the Earth around the Sun too must have been significant for the inception of plate tectonics. The initial orbital conditions of the Earth were significantly influenced by the diametrical processes of core segregation and Moon formation and that had probably led to the eventuality of initiation and persistence of plate tectonics.

The change in the orbital conditions could have rendered the Earth to evolve in a near-linear trend so that the rotational periodicity of the planet (TP) could approach the time taken for the planet to travel one degree in its orbit around the Sun (T1degree), that is TP ~ T1degree. Such an optimal condition for the rotational and revolutionary periodicities could be essential for the development of plate tectonics on the Earth. This hypothesis has direct implications on the possibility of plate tectonics and life in extrasolar planets and potentially habitable solar planetary bodies such as Europa and Mars.

Rajagopal Anand

Comments: 13 Pages, 2 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2202.10719 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2202.10719v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Rajagopal Anand
[v1] Tue, 22 Feb 2022 08:15:58 UTC (966 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻