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.
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. 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.
To celebrate Earth Day, Dr. Kate Marvel talks about models of Earth's climate. She compares many models to learn more about the way our climate works, and how it might change in the future. She also offers advice for those of us who may feel overwhelmed by climate change.
Dr. Alejandro Soto visits the show to talk about the different atmospheres found on planets and moons in our solar system. We talk about wind on Mars, the opening scene of The Martian, Pluto’s thin atmosphere, and what it is like on Saturn’s moon Titan.