Category Archives: Space Science

Tweaking The Drake Equation

Planet formation may be much more common than previously thought:

Scientists say the latest finding should shed light on how planetary systems form.

“It shows that planet formation is really ubiquitous in the universe. It’s a very robust process and can happen in all sorts of unexpected environments,” said lead researcher Deepto Chakrabarty, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Devilish Weather

We’ve lost a lot of probes in the attempt to explore Mars (though the Soviets and now Russians, have had even worse luck–have they ever had a successful Mars mission?). There even used to be grim jokes in Pasadena about the “Great Cosmic Ghoul” who ate Martian-bound robots.

But interestingly, once a mission is successful, it tends to be very successful–the rovers that landed a couple years ago were only designed (and expected to last) for three months, but they’re still going strong. Michelle Thaller has an article that explains why bad weather is good for Martian explorers.

Extrasolar Planet Next Steps has a good summary of the recently discovered extra solar planet massing only five times as much as ours.

My recommendation for the planet finders is to start looking for wobbles on the wobbles of the super massive planet orbits to see if they can find smaller planets or Moons. Or wobbles on cold binary stars that circle near the hab zone of hotter primaries that may also turn up lower mass planets.

Even if we never directly detect low mass planets, big hab zone planets may be like Jupiter or Saturn and have lots of moons, some of which have comfortable gravity and an atmosphere.