Atmospheres

147: Searching for extraterrestrial life with Dr. Seager

This episode is related to the March 2019 National Geographic cover story, "We are not alone."

Dr. Seager explains how she and other astronomers are looking for extraterrestrial life. We discuss the Drake and Seager equations. We also talk about how astronomers might be able to detect life by measuring chemicals in distant planet atmospheres.    Image:  Using a model, MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager demonstrates Starshade, under development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. Deployed in space, the device, more than 100 feet in diameter, would block the light from a star. A space telescope would capture an image of a planet when it’s between Starshade’s petals, seeking evidence that life may exist on the planet.  (PHOTOGRAPH BY SPENCER LOWELL / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

Dr. Seager explains how she and other astronomers are looking for extraterrestrial life. We discuss the Drake and Seager equations. We also talk about how astronomers might be able to detect life by measuring chemicals in distant planet atmospheres.

Image:

Using a model, MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager demonstrates Starshade, under development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. Deployed in space, the device, more than 100 feet in diameter, would block the light from a star. A space telescope would capture an image of a planet when it’s between Starshade’s petals, seeking evidence that life may exist on the planet.

(PHOTOGRAPH BY SPENCER LOWELL / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

136: Would sailboats work on Titan? With Dr. Soto

Dr. Alejandro Soto  returns to the show to talk about how lakes on Titan and on Earth influence the nearby atmosphere. He talks about how lakes create breezes that allow for sailing on Earth, and how the situation changes on Titan.  Titan's seas reflect the sun's light.  Cassini spacecraft  photo, credit  NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona / University of Idaho .

Dr. Alejandro Soto returns to the show to talk about how lakes on Titan and on Earth influence the nearby atmosphere. He talks about how lakes create breezes that allow for sailing on Earth, and how the situation changes on Titan.

Titan's seas reflect the sun's light. Cassini spacecraft photo, credit NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona / University of Idaho.