Science & Techonolgy -> Space
Topic : GS Paper 3 - Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Finding life beyond the solar system has become a quest for mankind ever since the explosion of astronomical science. The technological advancements in recent years is making this quest possible. At the current pace of advancement in science humankind is bound to find extraterrestrial life within a century.
But, how do we know where to look for life outside the solar system?
- Life on earth is dependent on water for its survival. It is thus assumed that life is dependent on the presence of water on a planet.
- The distance of the Earth from the Sun provides a sustainable temperature where water remains stable in its liquid form. This zone where the presence of water in liquid form on a planet is known as Goldilocks Zone also known as habitable zone.
But is the Distance Same to All the Star Systems?
- No, it is not. The goldilocks zone in a planetary system is dependent on the size of the host star.
- If the star is bigger, then the habitable zone is further spread outwards. If the star is smaller, for example red dwarfs, then the habitable zone will be much closer to the star.
Does it Mean a Planet in the Goldilocks Zone Bound to Have Liquid Water?
- No, not necessarily.
- If we look into our own planetary system, both Venus and Mars are also in the Goldilocks zone. But, water is nowhere to be seen on these planets.
- On Venus, a catastrophic greenhouse effect is in play that is heating up the planet and presumably evaporated all the water it held.
- On Mars, lack of an atmosphere and a magnetic field is bombarded by the solar particles which have evaporated the water present on it.
- Thus, being present in a goldilocks zone does not guarantee the availability of water on a planet.
- But make them potential targets for astronomers to explore and determine the presence of water through various other methods.