JUL 01, 2018 5:03 PM PDT

Are Super-Earths the Right Places to Look for Aliens?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Astronomers are always looking for exoplanets that resemble Earth or sport Earth-like features. In some cases, exoplanets are much denser and larger than Earth, and planetary geologists refer to these as “super-Earths.”

Some scientists think that super-Earths might be ideal places to look for alien life. They’d have a lot more gravity, which means these exoplanets could hold on to more air molecules than our planet could. It would also mean the exoplanet might sport a flatter surface polka-dotted with islands surrounded by water, potentially rich in life-supporting nutrients.

But sporting all that extra gravity isn’t entirely advantageous, as it makes exploring these worlds much more challenging. Rockets would require significantly more fuel to leave a super-Earth’s atmosphere compared to what they’d need to leave Earth’s. That said, bringing explorers back to Earth (assuming we could ever get them there) would be a problem.

Despite all the challenges, astronomers continue to search for and study Earth-like exoplanets. Perhaps when the James Webb Space Telescope finally launches, we can achieve a clearer look at which exoplanets might be habitable.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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