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Habitable Moons – Two Decades Later

1 Dec 2018, 14:20 UTC
Habitable Moons – Two Decades Later NASA

Habitable moons have been the spectacular settings for a number of science fiction stories over the decades. For scifi movie enthusiasts of my age, the forest moon of Endor, which appeared in the 1983 film “Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi”, is a notable example. But starting in late 1995 with the discovery of giant extrasolar planets orbiting in and near the habitable zone of Sun-like stars, the possibility that giant planets with Earth-size moons could be potentially habitable began to spark the interest of some in the scientific community as well. And not “habitable” like Jupiter’s moon Europa potentially is with a tidally-heated ocean that could provide an abode for life protected from the vacuum of space by kilometers of ice, but “habitable” like the Earth with conditions that allow for the presence of liquid water on the surface for billions of years with the possibility of life and maybe a technological civilization evolving.

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