Venus: Death of a Planet

From the fires of a sun’s birth, twin planets emerged. Venus and Earth. Two roads diverged in our young solar system. Nature draped one world in the greens and blues of life. While enveloping the other in acid clouds, high heat, and volcanic flows. Why did Venus take such a disastrous turn? And what light can Earth’s sister planet shed on the search for other worlds like our own? For as long as we have gazed upon the stars, they have offered few signs that somewhere out there are worlds as rich and diverse as our own. Recently, though, astronomers have found ways to see into the bright lights of nearby stars. They’ve been discovering planets at a rapid clip, using orbiting observatories like NASA’s Kepler space telescope, and an array of ground-based instruments. The count is almost a thousand and rising. These alien worlds run the gamut, from great gas giants many times the size of our Jupiter, to rocky, charred remnants that burned when their parent star exploded. Some have wild elliptical orbits, swinging far out into space, then diving into scorching stellar winds.

Still others orbit so close to their parent stars that their surfaces are likely bathed in molten rock. Amid these hostile realms, a few bear tantalizing hints of water or ice, ingredients needed to nurture life as we know it. The race to find other Earths has raised anew the ancient question, whether, out in the folds of our galaxy, planets like our own are abundant, and life commonplace? Or whether Earth is a rare Garden of Eden in a barren universe? With so little direct evidence of these other worlds to go on, we have only the stories of planets within our own solar system to gauge the chances of finding another Earth. Consider, for example, a world that has long had the look and feel of a life-bearing planet. Except for the moon, there’s no brighter light in our night skies than the planet Venus, known as both the morning and the evening star. The ancient Romans named it for their goddess of beauty and love. In time, the master painters transformed this classical symbol into an erotic figure, then a courtesan.

It was a scientist, Galileo Galilei, who demystified planet Venus, charting its phases as it moved around the sun, drawing it into the ranks of the other planets. With a similar size and weight, Venus became known as Earth’s sister planet. But how Earth-like is it? The Russian scientist Mikkhail Lomonosov caught a tantalizing hint in 1761. As Venus passed in front of the Sun, he witnessed a hair thin luminescence on its edge. Venus, he found, has an atmosphere. Later observations revealed a thick layer of clouds. Astronomers imagined they were made of water vapor, like those on Earth. Did they obscure stormy, wet conditions below? And did anyone, or anything, live there? The answer came aboard an unlikely messenger, an asteroid that crashed into Earth.

That is, according to the classic sci-fi adventure, “The First Spaceship on Venus.“ A mysterious computer disk is found among the rubble. With anticipation rising on Earth, an international crew sets off to find out who sent it, and why. What they find is a treacherous, toxic world. No wonder the Venusians want to switch planets. It was now time to get serious about exploring our sister planet. NASA sent Mariner 2 to Venus in 1962, in the first-ever close planetary encounter. Its instruments showed that Venus is nothing at all like Earth. Rather, it’s extremely hot, with an atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide. The data showed that Venus rotates very slowly, only once every 243 Earth days, and it goes in the opposite direction. American and Soviet scientists found out just how strange Venus is when they sent a series of landers down to take direct readings. Surface temperatures are almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead, with the air pressure 90 times higher than at sea level on Earth.

The air is so thick that it’s not a gas, but a “supercritical fluid.” Liquid CO2. On our planet, the only naturally occurring source is in the high-temperature, high-pressure environments of undersea volcanoes. The Soviet Venera landers sent back pictures showing that Venus is a vast garden of rock, with no water in sight. In fact, if you were to smooth out the surface of Venus, all the water in the atmosphere would be just 3 centimeters deep. Compare that to Earth, where the oceans would form a layer 3 kilometers deep. If you could land on Venus, you’d be treated to tranquil vistas and sunset skies, painted in orange hues. The winds are light, only a few miles per hour, but the air is so thick that a breeze would knock you over. Look up and you’d see fast-moving clouds, streaking around the planet at 300 kilometers per hour. These clouds form a dense high-altitude layer, from 45 to 66 kilometers above the surface. The clouds are so dense and reflective that Venus absorbs much less solar energy than Earth, even though it’s 30% closer to the Sun. These clouds curve around into a pair of immense planetary hurricanes as the air spirals down into the cooler polar regions.

Along the equator, they rise in powerful storms, unleashing bolts of lightning. Just like earth, these storms produce rain, only it’s acid rain that evaporates before it hits the ground. At higher elevations, a fine mist forms, not of water but of the rare metal tellurium, and iron pyrites, known as fool’s gold. It can form a metallic frost, like snowflakes in hell. Scientists have identified around 1700 major volcanic centers on Venus ranging from lava domes, and strange features called arachnoids or coronae, to giant volcanic summits. The planet is peppered with volcanoes, perhaps in the millions, distributed randomly on its surface. Venus is run through with huge cuts thousands of kilometers long that may well be lava channels. Our sister planet is a volcanic paradise, in a solar system shaped by volcanism. The largest mountain on Earth, Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, measures 32,000 feet from sea floor to summit.

Rising almost three times higher is the mother of all volcanoes: Olympus Mons on Mars. Jupiter’s moon Io, is bleeding lava. It’s produced deep underground by the friction of rock on rock, caused by the gravitational pull of its mother planet. Then there’s Neptune’s moon Triton, with crystals of nitrogen ice shooting some 10 kilometers above the surface. Saturn’s moon Titan, with frozen liquid methane and ammonia oozing into lakes and swamps. On our planet, volcanoes commonly form at the margins of continents and oceans. Here, the vast slabs of rock that underlie the oceans push beneath those that bear the continents. Deep underground, magma mixes with water, and the rising pressure forces it up in explosive eruptions. On Venus, the scene is very different. In the high-density atmosphere, volcanoes are more likely to ooze and splatter, sending rivers of lava flowing down onto the lowlands. They resemble volcanoes that form at hot spots like the Hawaiian islands.

There, plumes of magma rise up from deep within the earth, releasing the pressure in a stream of eruptions. To see a typical large volcano on Venus, go to Sappas Mons, at 400 kilometers across and 1.5 kilometers high. The mountain was likely built through eruptions at its summit. But as magma reached up from below, it began to drain out through subsurface tubes or cracks that formed a web of channels leading onto the surrounding terrain. Is Venus, like Earth, still volcanically active? Finding the answer is a major goal of the Venus Express mission, launched in 2005 by the European Space Agency. Armed with a new generation of high-tech sensors, it peered through the clouds. Recording the infrared light given off by several large mountains, it found that the summits are brighter than the surrounding basins. That’s probably because they had not been subject to as much weathering in this corrosive environment.

This means that they would have erupted sometime within the last few hundred thousand years. If these volcanoes are active now, it’s because they are part of a deeper process that shapes our planet as well. On Earth, the release of heat from radioactive decay deep in its mantle is what drives the motion of oceanic and continental plates. It’s dependent on erosion and other processes associated with water. With no water on Venus, the planet’s internal heat builds to extreme levels, then escapes in outbreaks of volcanism that may be global in scope. This may explain why fewer than a thousand impact craters have been found on Venus. Anything older than about 500 million years has literally been paved over. So why did Venus diverge so radically from Earth when it was born in same solar system and under similar circumstances? There is growing evidence, still circumstantial, that Venus may in fact have had a wetter, more Earth-like past.

One of the most startling findings of the early Venus missions was the presence of deuterium, a form of hydrogen, in Venus’ upper atmosphere. It forms when ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart water molecules. Additional evidence recently came to light. Venus Express trained its infrared sensors on the planet’s night side, to look at how the terrain emits the energy captured in the heat of the day. This picture is a composite of over a thousand individual images of Venus’ southern hemisphere. Higher elevation areas, shown in blue, emit less heat than the surrounding basins. That supports a hypothesis that these areas are made not of lava, but of granite. On Earth, granite forms in volcanoes when magma mixes with water. If there’s granite on Venus, then there may well have been water. If Earth and Venus emerged together as twin blue marbles, then at some point, the two worlds parted company.

Earth developed ways to moderate its climate, in part by removing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from its atmos phere. Plants, for one, absorb CO2 and release oxygen in photosynthesis. One square kilometer of tropical jungle, for example, can take in several hundred tons of co2 in just a year. That’s nothing compared to the oceans. In a year’s time, according to one recent study, just one square kilometer of ocean can absorb 41 million tons of CO2. Earth takes in its own share of CO2. When rainfall interacts with rocks, a chemical reaction known as “weathering” converts atmospheric CO2 to carbonate compounds. Runoff from the land washes it into rivers and the seas, where they settle into ocean sediments. With little water and no oceans, Venus has no good way to remove CO2 from its atmosphere. Instead, with volcanic eruptions adding more and more CO2 to the atmosphere, it has trapped more and more of the sun’s heat in a runaway greenhouse effect. Venus is so hot that liquid water simply cannot survive on the surface. Nor, it seems, can it last in the upper atmosphere.

The culprit is the Sun. The outer reaches of its atmosphere, the corona, is made up of plasma heated to over a million degrees Celsius. From this region, the sun sends a steady stream of charged particles racing out into the solar system. The solar wind reaches its peak in the wake of great looping eruptions on the surface of the Sun, called coronal mass ejections. The blast wave sweeps by Venus, then heads out toward Earth. Our planet is fortified against the solar blast. Plumes of hot magma rise and fall in Earth’s core as it spins, generating a magnetic field that extends far out into space. It acts as a shield, deflecting the solar wind and causing it to flow past. It’s this protective bubble that Venus lacks. Venus Express found that these solar winds are steadily stripping off lighter molecules of hydrogen and oxygen.

They escape the planet on the night side, then ride solar breezes on out into space. All this may be due to Venus’ size, 80% that of Earth. This prevents the formation of a solid iron core, and with it the rising and falling plumes that generate a strong magnetic field. There may be another reason too, according to a theory about the planet’s early years. A young planet Venus encountered one or more planet-sized objects, in violent collisions. The force of these impacts slowed its rotation to a crawl, and reversed it, reducing the chances that a magnetic field could take hold. This theory may have a surprising bearing on Earth’s own history. Scientists believe the sun was not always as hot as it is. In fact, going back several billion years, it was cool enough that Earth should have been frozen over. Because it was not, this is known as the faint young sun paradox. Earth’s salvation may well be linked to Venus’ fate.

The idea is that the Earth occupied an orbit closer to the Sun, allowing it to capture more heat. The gravity of two smaller planets with unstable orbits would have gradually pushed it out to its present orbit. The pair would eventually come together, merging to form the Venus we know. As dead as Venus is today, it has brought surprising dividends in the search for life. On its recent crossing between Earth and the Sun, astronomers were out in force. In remote locations where the viewing was optimal, such as the Svalbard islands north of Norway. The data gathered here would be added to that collected by solar telescopes on the ground and in space. To object for most was to experience a spectacle that will not occur again till the year 2117. It was also to capture sunlight passing through Venus’ atmosphere.

Today, the Kepler Space Telescope is searching for planets around distant stars by detecting dips in their light as a planet passes in front. Telescopes in the future may be able to analyze the light of the planet itself. If elements such as carbon or oxygen are detected, then these worlds may well be “Earth-like.” Venus provides a benchmark, and some valuable perspective. So what can we glean from the evolution of planet Venus? As we continue to scan the cosmic horizons, the story of Venus will stand as a stark reminder. It takes more than just the right size, composition, and distance from the parent star, for a planet to become truly Earth-like. No matter how promising a planet may be, there are myriad forces out there that can radically alter its course. For here was a world, Venus, poised perhaps on the brink of a glorious future.

But bad luck passed its way. Now, we can only imagine what might have become of Earth’s sister planet? 8.


RESEARCHERS REVEAL A HIDDEN WORLD UNDER ANTARCTICA There is a hidden mysterious world hidden away under Antarctica and researchers have revealed the giant wetlands that are 800 meters beneath the ice. The Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling, or WISSARD for short, a project that was financed by National Science Foundation, has taken researchers that step nearer to discovering just what lies underneath the ice that covers the majority of Antarctica. LAKE WHILLANS IS UNDER 800 METERS OF ICE IN WESTERN ANTARCTICA Reports have indicated that Lake Whillans, which was first located in 2007 and which covers more than 20 square miles, is under the 800 meters of ice that is found in Western Antarctica and researchers have said that this is very similar to the wetland. The researchers are hoping that more studies will mean they can understand better how the level of the sea rises and how the ice is behaving in response to the global warming. RESEARCHERS ARE EXCITED ABOUT RICH DATASET OF LAKES RELATED ARTICLES Researchers Reveal: The Egyptian Civilization Is Thousands Of Years Older Than ThoughtRussian Researchers Reveal A Mummified Alien Helen Amanda Fricker from Scripps Institute said that it was amazing to think that people did not know that the lake was in existence until just a decade ago.

It was Fricker that had first found sub-glacial Lake Whillans from satellite data back in 2007. She went on to say that it was exciting to be able to see the lakes rich dataset and that the new data is helping them to understand the function of the lakes as a part of the ice-sheet system. The sub-glacial Lake is fed by ice which has a small amount of seawater in it from the ancient marine sediments that are on the lakes seabed. The lake's water drains periodically into the ocean through channels that are connected to the lake, but they do not have energy enough to carry much of the sediment. NEW DATA WILL LEAD TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF MECHANICS OF LAKE WHILLANS Researchers have said that the new data should give them a much better understanding of the mechanics and biogeochemistry of Lake Whillans. It was also said that the data is going to help them to improve the current models and tell them more about how the sub-glacial lake systems in Antarctica interact with any ice that is underneath the surface along with the sediments that are found under it. In January 2013 three different papers analyzed the studies following the WISSARD project having managed to drill successfully down into the sheet of ice to reach subglacial Lake Whillans, to get some samples of sediment along with water samples that had been isolated from any direct contact with the atmosphere of the Earth for many thousands of years.

The Geology and Earth and Planetary Science Letters journal published two of the more interesting of the papers. Alexander Michaud from the Montana State University and the lead author said that data had come from the 15-inch long core lake sediment so that the water chemistry along with the sediment could be characterized. LAKE WATER MOSTLY COMES FROM MELTING ICE AT BASE COVERING LAKE Researchers found that the water in the lake originates mostly from the melting ice at the base of the sheet that covers the sub-glacial lake and that there had been very little contribution from any seawater, trapped under the ice in the sediment during the last inter-glacial period. A second paper had been published by lead author Timothy Hodson from the Northern Illinois University in which he along with colleagues took a look at the core sediment that had been retrieved from the lake with the hope of trying to find out more about the ice sheet and the relationship with the sediments under it and the subglacial hydrology.

Their discovery found that many floods had passed through the lake but that the floods flow was lacking in energy when it came to eroding the extensive drainage channels. The researchers came to the conclusion that the environment underneath Antarctica is similar to that of wetlands in the coastal plain that is found in other parts on the planet. Antarctica of course, broke away from Gondwana around 25 million years ago; around 170 million years ago it had been part of the Gondwana supercontinent before breaking away. Research shows that Antarctica has not always been the very dry and cold region that we know to be covered in sheets of ice. Throughout its long history, it was further to the north and this meant that it experienced a climate that was either tropical or temperate, which would have meant that it had been covered in forest, along with being home to many ancient life forms.


The lies of Global Warming

– Begins now 3×1, hier in Brazil TV. I am Luiz Carlos Azedo and today we will discuss the global warming. Our guest is the physicist and meteorologist Luiz Carlos Molion who questions the theories – let’s say, hegemonic in our days – related with this subject. Participate in this interview the journalist Zilda Ferreira, author of the Blog EDUCOM, which deals with environmental education and the journalist Efraim Neto, moderator of the Brazilian network of environmental journalism. <<The Earth, poetically identified as the Blue Planet, located in the Galaxy Via Lactia, orbits in the solar system and is distinguished by its unique atmosphere. Here, in millions of years life has evolved creating a complex system favorable for the existence of thousands of plant and animal species dependent on a food chain. The human being – extractivist – takes its sustenance from the land and the sea.

To enable the agriculture and industry uses various types of energy, obtained mostly from fossil fuels that generate tens of pollutants. On entering the second decade of the new millennium, the greatest challenge of humanity – that is to produce and develop without altering the atmosphere – presents itself as an emergency agenda for all nations. At the recent climate conference in Copenhagen, it became clear that rich countries, emerging or poor need to speak the same language, if they wish truly – in the medium term – contain the aggressions to the global environment.>> – We will start our interview with a question from a viewer. – Why do you say that there is no global warming? – I contend that there is no global warming because it already occurred in the past periods in which they were warmer than now. For example: If we get to the period of the years 800 to 1200 a.C -called Medieval Warm Period – Temperatures were higher than now and at that time the man not released carbon; not emitted carbon into the atmosphere. The Vikings came from Scandinavia and colonized the northern regions of Canada and southern Greenland and are now frozen regions.

So you can see that, that period was warmer than now. Between 1925 and 1946, there was also a very significant warming, which corresponds to approximately 70% of all this warming that – the people say – occurred in the last 150 years. At that time there was an increase of 0.4 degrees Celsius – between 1925 and 1946 – and that very probably due to increased solar activity in the first half of the twentieth century and the fact that in this period practically not occured any large volcanic eruption, so the atmosphere was clean – transparent – and entered more solar radiation and then increased the temperature. Notice! In 1946, after the second World War, the man threw to the atmosphere less than 10% of the carbon that launches today, so it is very difficult to say that the warming between 1925 and 1946 was due to human action. Later – after the war – that, in fact, there was an increase in industrialization, was emitted more carbon, but what happened? A global cooling between 1947 and 1976 and now this latest.

– Dr. Molion, you were commenting on the case of the Vikings, there is a french historian named Pierre Chani who was an expert of studies on European expansion and he said the Vikings not only conquered America because there was a period – immediately after their arrival, in that Arctic region – of cooling of the earth and there is a stream of scientists who defends a thesis against prevailing opinion – which says that there is a global warming – and say that we are on the verge – if we can use this expression – of a new global cooling. Is it? – Perfect. This period, which lasted more or less until 1250 a.C, was followed by what was called the Little Ice Age, which lasted from 1350 until 1920. I mean, very recent. – You assign to this cooling the barbarian invasions, because they have turned to the continent, because of cooling. – It was just the opposite, ie, the cold period leads to frustrations harvest and hunger. You have paintings made at that time showing that the river Thames was frozen.

Paintings from 1630 – 1650 show that fairs were made ​​over the frozen river. So, if I look at history, I would say this: that in the last million years the Earth has gone through nine ice ages. Each ice age lasts for a hundred thousand years. So nine times a hundred thousand gives nine hundred thousand. In one million, 90% of the time, the weather is colder than now. These ice ages are interrupted by warmer periods called interglacial. That we are living, Luiz Carlos, began about 15 thousand years ago and all of human history is summarized in the last ten thousand years. So we are in a period, as you said, on the eve of a new ice age. In fact we can be within a new ice age, since this our interglacial is already with 15 thousand years, according to paleoclimatic studies. So, there is a variability So, there is a variation upon that very slow fall that will take one hundred thousand years, practically, to get to 8 -10 degrees below what is today. On top of that there is a ripple of half a degree up, half a degree down. If we have that, as I said from 1925 to 1946, had a ripple down, a cooling from 1947 to 1976 – which was very bad for Brazil and around the world under the economic point of view – and now we had a small increase from 1977 to 1998 The “cue ball” now is the cooling.

– Is there a disparity of measuring instruments among the various periods? – Certainly, certainly. No doubt. – Would be the diagnosis today more accurate than before? – The biggest problem is not that, because when you put those long series, 100 -150 years, from cities like Paris, Vienna, Berlin… these cities were growing and if the thermometer was stuck in the same place, at the same meteorological station it would suffer the effects of urbanization. What is this effect of urbanization? Rains. If the area is vegetated, there is infiltration of water. The water evaporates and cools the surface. When the city then becomes urbanized, the asphalt and concrete causes the runoff of the water, that there will fall. So, today the cities do not have water to evaporate and the same heat of the Sun causes higher urban temperatures than its surroundings. São Paulo, for example, on the order of 3 degrees. There are studies here in Rio de Janeiro that show as well – depending on the region – the order of 3 – 4 degrees.

So, the effect that is known as Urban Heat Island interferes in the temperature. The same thermometer, even if it is calibrated will show higher temperatures. There is no way to eliminate this effect of urbanization on the measure. There is no way to eliminate. They say that if you select a basket of thermometers around the world that is located in the big cities, what will happen is the trend these thermometers show an ever increasing temperature. But when you use satellites covering the whole globe, including oceanic regions, it is shown that in the last 20 years a slight decrease occurred. Excluding the peak of El Niño, in 1997 – 1998, as El Niños tend to warm the atmosphere… – But does it not come back now, this year? – But this is pretty weak and must die now in February, maximum in March and will not affect, the contrary, it must turn to the cold La Niña. So, when you look at the data taken by satellites..

. – So will be the next year a cold year? – Yes, with cold winters. This is the trend, frosts in the south and southeast, cold temperatures and for us here, relatively drier during the dry season, ie, in the period from April to October, drier than the normal. – Professor, our scientific validation with respect to climate studies are based on numerical models… – That is it. – …and our system of climate research has evaluated and provided to society certain results. How do you evaluate this? – Well, Efraim. The models are nothing more than computer programs. Some are very sophisticated coming to have thousand lines, one million rows. These models attempt to reproduce the physical processes occurring in the atmosphere, but the atmosphere of the Earth depends on externs physical processes, eg, variation in solar activity, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis or earthquakes influence the heat distribution of oceans and also depends on the oceanic processes, for instance, that are treated very badly in these models, particularly with regard to the transport of heat. A climate model, for example, can not reproduce an El Niño. It can not reproduce this variation It can not reproduce this decadal variation of the Pacific lasting 25-30, where the Pacific warms in the tropics and then turns and cools.

The Pacific occupies 35% of the land surface and the atmosphere is heated from below. So, when the Pacific temperature changes, changes the atmosphere and changes the climate. These models make projections, Efraim, upon hypothetical scenarios that will never happen and the models in itself are disabled. So, for example, if I were to believe in this model, I would like to see this model predicting “the past”. Because of the past I already have data, is not it? And they did it, but the error was very large. The current models can not reproduce past climate. So, I have no guarantee that they will predict future climates, ie, model results are useless and do not lend themselves to planning. – Since the 70s, you have been showing the importance of the oceans in relation to climate, this from a global point of view. Since we are talking about climate change from a general point of view, what is the importance of having more advanced studies in relation to the oceans, since it seems to me that this has been of little relevance in relation to the data applied by the IPCC (Intergovermental of Climate Change)? – You are absolutely right, Efraim.

There is a tendency to leave the oceans outside of this climate control, when in reality they are extremely important to control the weather. We are talking about a planet that is 71% covered of water with an average depth of 3,800 meters, ie, this body of water is a huge heat reservoir that softens the climate change, so that the changes are not so big. The differences remained around more or less half degree up, half degree down thanks to the oceans. Recently we – the scientific community – developed a system of buoys – are more than 3,200 buoys – that are special. They dive up to 2,000 meters deep moving with the sea current for 9 and a half days, after they inflate, through a bladder that they have, and start to rise by measuring temperature and salinity. Arrives at the surface and transmits this data to the satellite. So, this system was completed in 2002 and the analysis of the datas from these buoys shows that the heat content of the oceans is declining.

This means that the global oceans are cooling and this cooling will lead to global cooling, not a warming. So, we have two very important factors: The sun, which has a cycle of 90 years and is now going into decline and will be so until the year 2032 and the oceans, which these buoys indicate that is cooling. These two phenomena that are fundamental; two basic controllers of the climate of the Earth will lead to a global cooling for the next 20 years, which is much worse than a warming..

Top 10 Recently Discovered Earth Like Planets

Welcome to Top10Archive! The longer we stay on Earth, the more apparent it becomes that maybe we should have a backup plan should we live long enough to completely dry ‘er up. On our quest to find the perfect place to call Second Home, we’ve come across these incredible exoplanets. Factoring in the Earth Similarity Index or ESI, we’ve compiled the Top 10 Earth-like planets discovered over the past decade. 10. Kapteyn B In June of 2014, the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher discovered the potentially habitable exoplanet Kapteyn B. Found to reside in a system estimated at over 11 billion years old, about 7 billion years older than our own solar system, Kapteyn B orbits the red subdwarf star Kapteyn and is 12.8 light-years away from Earth. Kapteyn B has an ESI of .67 and, while found within a habitable zone capable of liquid water, is believed to have a temperature of approximately -91° F or roughly -68° C and, therefore, too cold to sustain water in a liquid form, but with enough C02 in its atmosphere, this may not even be a factor.

Working against the argument of habitability is the fact that some researchers, such as Paul Robertson at Penn State University, think Kapteyn B may not even exist and may just be a starspot mimicking a planetary signal. 9. Gliese 667 Cc Orbiting around the red dwarf star Gliese 667 C some 23 light years away, the exoplanet Gliese 667 Cc is within the habitable zone and has an ESI of .84. In November of 2011, astronomers noticed the super-Earth and started to find similarities to our own planet. The habitability of Gliese 667 Cc depends on where you’re aiming to terraform as the two hemispheres display complete opposite properties. One side is completely shrouded in permanent darkness while the other is constantly facing towards the red dwarf. It’s believed that, between these hemispheres, there is a sliver of space that may experience temperatures suitable for human life. There is, however, a possibility of extreme tidal heating upwards of 300 times that of Earth, calling into question whether, at times, if Gliese 667 Cc may be a little too hot for habitation.

8. Kepler 442b Launched in 2009, NASA’s Kepler space observatory has succeeded on numerous occasions in its mission to find Earth-sized planets. Announced in January of 2015, alongside the discovery of Kepler-438b, 442b has an ESI of .83 and a radius of 1.34 radians, quite a bit larger than Earth’s radius of .009 radians. While located within the habitable zone and deemed one of the most Earth-like planets in regards to temperature and size, life would be quite a bit different on 442b. For instance, a year would only be 112.3 days long and we’d experience only 70% of the sunlight that we’re used to receiving on Earth. Since the axial tilt is believed to be fairly small, we also shouldn’t expect to enjoy the quarterly change in seasons that we’re accustomed to. 7. Proxima B With an ESI of .87, Proxima b may be one of the most Earth-like exoplanets to date, but that doesn’t mean it’s the greatest candidate for habitability.

Though it shares many characteristics with Earth and touts a higher ESI, if you haven’t noticed yet, that’s not a guaranteed proponent of habitability. In fact, Proxima b, which is only 4.2 light-years away, is likely uninhabitable due to incredibly high stellar wind pressures. Compared to Earth, Proxima b is thought to be subjected to pressures of more than 2,000 times what we experience. Coupled with the radiation from its host star, it’s possible that the exoplanet would have no atmosphere to sustain life. In October of 2016, researchers at the National Center for Scientific Research in France hypothesized a chance for surface oceans and a thin atmospheric layer, though proof has yet to be discovered. 6. Kepler 438b In January of 2015, the newly found Kepler 438b, located 470 light years away, was deemed one of the most “Earth-like” planets ever discovered, making it an incredible candidate for the potential of life. Though it has a potential ESI of .88 and still carries similarities to our home world, research later that year determined that, while still “Earth-like,” 438b may be missing qualities needed for habitation – such as an atmosphere.

The planet’s nearby star emits flares 10 times more powerful than the Sun, leading to the possibility of a stripped atmosphere. There’s still hope that Kepler-438b, which is 12% larger and receives 40% more light than Earth, may be usable if it has a magnetic field like our own. 5. Wolf 1061 c At an ESI of .76, Wolf 1061 c is a potentially rocky super-Earth exoplanet discovered in December of 2015, some 14 light-years away from Earth. Orbiting Wolf 1061 at .084 AU, the exoplanet is closer to the inner edge of the habitable zone and is believed to be tidally locked. With one side permanently fixated on its star, the possibility of an extreme difference in temperatures on either side of the planet is incredibly likely. On the warmer side, liquid water may be sustainable, though it’s hypothesized to have an icy equilibrium temperature of -58° F or about -50° C, that could be offset by a thick atmosphere that allows for a transfer of heat away from the side of the planet facing Wolf 1061. 4. Kepler 62 e A Super-Earth found within the habitable zone of the Kepler 62 star, this exoplanet, which was discovered in 2013, has an ESI of .

83 and has some of the imperative qualities of potentially livable planets. On top of being rocky, the planet is also believed to be covered in an extensive amount of water. One factor working against 62 e as a habitable zone is the 20% increase in stellar flux from what we experience on Earth, which can trigger temperatures as high as 170° F or about 77 ° C, and start a detrimental greenhouse effect. In relation to Earth, 62 e is 60% larger and orbits the Kepler 62 star 243 days quicker and receives 20% more sunlight than Earth does. 3. Kepler 62f Kepler 62 f may only have an ESI of .67, but this super-Earth, discovered at the same time as 62e at about 1,200 light-years away from Earth, poses one of the best scenarios for habitability.

Where the exoplanet may fall short in its ability to sustain life is its possible lack of an atmosphere, which would lead to any surface water to be ice. At 1.4 times larger than Earth and with an orbital period of 267 days, life on 62f would be fairly similar to life on Earth – that is, of course, if its atmosphere were similar to that of our own. As of now, much remains unknown about the theoretically habitable planet, including whether or not it’s mostly terrestrial or predominantly covered in water. 2. Kepler-186f Kepler 186f of the Kepler 186 system may only have an ESI of .61, but the 2014 discovery is the first Earth-like exoplanet to have a radius similar to Earth’s – measuring in at about 10% larger. Found 500 light-years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation, 186f has an orbital period of 130 days and only receives 1/3 the energy from its star that Earth receives from the Sun. In terms of livability, 186f is within the habitable zone, but unknown atmospheric factors make how habitable it may be impossible to determine.

Like Kepler 442b, 186f has a low obliquity that keeps it from experiencing seasons like Earth. Of the four other planets in the Kepler system, 186f is believed to not be tidally locked like its neighbors and may be the only one far enough away from the Kepler star to sustain water. 1. Kepler 452b Also known as Earth 2.0, the discovery of Kepler 452b by the Kepler space telescope was announced in July of 2015. Found 1,400 light-years away from Earth, the super-Earth, which has an ESI of .83, was located in the habitable zone of a G-type star that shares a very similar mass and surface temperature of our Sun. While 452b’s smaller radius indicates it may have a rocky, terrestrial surface, the habitability of the exoplanet remains widely unknown, though it is believed to be subjected to a runaway greenhouse effect. The exoplanet is approximately 60% larger than Earth and has a year that’s only 5% longer than our own, earning it the title of Earth’s Cousin.


Ocean Temperatures – Changing Planet

The world’s oceans cover more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Millions of creatures, great and small, call the oceans home. These massive bodies of water play a crucial role in maintaining the planet’s delicate environmental balance, from supporting a complex food chain, to affecting global weather patterns. But rising air temperatures are warming the oceans and bringing dramatic impacts felt around the globe. Dr. TONY KNAP (Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences): One of the things warming does in, say areas off the United States, it creates a much bigger pool of warm water in the surface of the ocean that lends a huge amount of energy to hurricanes and tropical cyclones. THOMPSON: Dr. Tony Knap is the director of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, or BIOS. Famous for its luxurious golf courses and pink sand beaches, Bermuda is also home to one of the world’s leading institutes for ocean studies, with a focus on water temperatures.

KNAP: Here off Bermuda, we have probably a better view of it then many other people are going to have over time. THOMPSON: Bermuda is located over 600 miles, or almost 1,000 kilometers, from the coast of North Carolina, in an area of the Atlantic Ocean called the Sargasso Sea. KNAP: We like to think of the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic as the canary in the coalmine. It’s the smallest ocean, it’s between North America and Europe and we think if we are going to see changes, we will see them first here in the ocean off Bermuda. THOMPSON: Scientists at BIOS have been measuring the temperature of the ocean since 1954, making it one of the world’s longest ongoing studies of ocean data. KNAP: Well you measure the temperature of the ocean in many ways. In the old days you used to do it with buckets and thermometers. Now you use sophisticated instruments called conductivity, temperature and depth recorders. THOMPSON: These recorders, called CTDs, are large measuring instruments lowered deep into the water at specific locations in the ocean. On this day, Knap and his team are headed to “Station S.

” QUENTIN LEWIS, Jr. (Captain, R/V Atlantic Explorer): The weather is not going to be our friend today, unfortunately. The winds out of the west, it’s 35-40 and some higher gusts. The seas are anywhere from 14 to 16 feet or higher. THOMPSON: Lowered to a depth of three kilometers, or just under two miles, the CTD records temperature, salinity, carbon dioxide levels, and captures water samples. KNAP: This is a screen for the output on the CTD. The temperature will be in red, blue is salinity or the saltiness, and yellow is the oxygen content. THOMPSON: At BIOS, all of the data is then carefully logged and analyzed. Dr. NICK BATES (Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences): With this instrument we can see changes that happen over the season, over the year. And then from year to year.

THOMPSON: Using ocean temperature data going back several decades, BIOS research can trace the warming trend. In the past 56 years, it has risen half a degree Celsius. KNAP: Since 1954 we’ve seen, on average, the temperature increasing by a small amount, an equivalent to what is really a half a watt per year which is, doesn’t seem like a lot but over the whole of the ocean, it’s a lot. THOMPSON: What’s a half a watt? KNAP: It’s not much. It’s about a 100th of a degree per year. It’s not a lot. THOMPSON: But that small a difference can make, have a huge impact? KNAP: Yeah. THOMPSON: Really? KNAP: Yeah, because it’s going on every year. You think about how big the ocean is, and how deep it is, and how much energy it has, I mean it’s a tremendous source of heat. THOMPSON: So where is that warming coming from? KNAP: The warming we believe is to due to changes in CO2 in the atmosphere, the atmosphere getting warmer and the surface of the ocean getting warmer.

And that transfer of heat is being made into the ocean. THOMPSON: So what is the impact of a warmer ocean? The rising temperature causes the ocean to expand, and raises sea levels. KNAP: The tides going up by 3.2 millimeters a year. Half of that is attributed to the ocean warming down to 700 meters. The oceans on average 4,000 meters deep so it has a lot more to expand. THOMPSON: Warming temperatures also impact the growth rates of certain organisms at the very bottom of the ocean food chain, like phytoplankton. And so if you see changes in phytoplankton, does that mean that we are going to see changes in the food chain at the ocean? KNAP: If the organisms that eat those organisms, OK, eat the plankton, for example, can’t eat those plankton, then yes you’ll see changes. THOMPSON: And the small changes being recorded could bring even stronger storms.

This report published in 2005 in Science Magazine shows the gradual rise of the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes over recent years. An increase in storm intensity like this many scientists believe is the result of the warming of the oceans. KNAP: You think about how big the ocean is, and how deep it is, and how much energy it has. Even if you look at difference in hurricanes intensity, etc., one, one and a half degree centigrade in the water column of one hundred meters makes a massive amount of difference. THOMPSON: Small changes with big consequences for the creatures in the sea and all the people who live along the coasts..