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Habitability vs. Colonizability

25 Oct 2013, 10:00 UTC
Habitability vs. Colonizability NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

“Do there exist many worlds, or is there but a single world? This is one of the most noble and exalted questions in the study of Nature.”- St. Albertus Magnus (13th century)In the article “A Tale of Two Worlds” by novelist Karl Schroeder, the author states that in the detection and characterization of planets around other stars, habitability and colonizability are not the same thing. NASA’s Kepler space telescope has shown that Earth-size planets that are neither too hot nor too cold to support life are surprisingly common. These potentially habitable planets may at first seem to be where humans and their machines could one day settle. However, Schroeder mentions that the current definition of whether a planet is habitable has nearly nothing to do with its colonizability.Take the exoplanets Kepler-62e and Kepler-78b as examples. Kepler-62e is a super-Earth in orbit around a star that is somewhat cooler than the Sun. It has 1.61 times the Earth’s diameter and is located at a comfortable distance from its parent star such that temperatures are just right to support life. Kepler-62e possesses the right properties for it to be a potentially Earth-like habitable planet. In contrast, Kepler-78b, formerly known as KIC 8435766 ...

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