The Solar System of Forking Paths: Bifurcations in Planetary Evolution and the Search for Life-Bearing Planets in Our Galaxy
Lenardic A., Crowley J.W., Jellinek A.M., and Weller M.. Astrobiology. June 2016, 16(7): 551-559. doi:10.1089/ast.2015.1378.
—From Rice News…
Rice University scientists propose that life in the solar system could have been very different
If conditions had been just a little different an eon ago, there might be plentiful life on Venus and none on Earth.
The idea isn’t so far-fetched, according to a hypothesis by Rice University scientists and their colleagues who published their thoughts on life-sustaining planets, the planets’ histories and the possibility of finding more in Astrobiology this month.
The researchers maintain that minor evolutionary changes could have altered the fates of both Earth and Venus in ways that scientists may soon be able to model through observation of other solar systems, particularly ones in the process of forming, according to Rice Earth scientist Adrian Lenardic.
The paper, he said, includes “a little bit about the philosophy of science as well as the science itself, and about how we might search in the future. It’s a bit of a different spin because we haven’t actually done the work, in terms of searching for signs of life outside our solar system, yet. It’s about how we go about doing the work.”
Lenardic and his colleagues suggested that habitable planets may lie outside the “Goldilocks zone” in extra-solar systems, and that planets farther from or closer to their suns than Earth may harbor the conditions necessary for life.