back to article Sun of a b... Rising solar temp wrecks chances of finding ET in our system

The possibility of alien life on the icy planets and moons in our Solar System could be lower than previously thought, because any water on them will quickly vaporize, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. Scientists believe that Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth largest moon, and Europa, Jupiter’s smallest Galilean moon, are …

  1. Youngone Silver badge

    Not fair.

    Europa and Enceladus will have no habitable period. They will transit to a moist or runaway greenhouse state when the Sun becomes a red giant in 6-7 billion years.

    That's a shame. I was looking forward to seeing that.

  2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Boffin

    Well, the sun is only going to be in red giant phase for 500M years or so

    After which it will collapse to a white dwarf, and things will get incredibly cold on those moons.

    500m years is not a lot of time to develop intelligent life anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, the sun is only going to be in red giant phase for 500M years or so

      [500m years is not a lot of time to develop intelligent life anyway]

      Ahem.

      Planet Earth's intelligent life transitioned from our proto-human "dinosaur-riding magic garden dweller" phase to pre-end-of-times Rapture-ready superbeings in less than 5000 years.

      Admittedly there was also 7 days manufacturing preceded by any number of weeks of Intelligent Design on top of that but 5000-5001 years seems like a good ballpark figure for the rise of intelligent life assuming all environmental conditions are suitable (Scientists are yet to understand exactly what ratio of firmament, heavens, light, and words are required for life)

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Well, the sun is only going to be in red giant phase for 500M years or so

        "in less than 5000 years."

        actually, that would be 6000 years, placing creation week at 4004 BC. Dates according to Usher, as I recall.

        that's why "the end times" will take place in the year 2000, because 1000 years of 'whatever' following 'the end times" at the 6000 year point Rosh Hashana when "the rapture" happens. you know, because 7 days = 7000 years. etc.

        (troll icon for obvious reasons)

      2. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Well, the sun is only going to be in red giant phase for 500M years or so

        "Admittedly there was also 7 days manufacturing"

        The bible doesn't say how long it took to create the heavens and the Earth itself!

        And it took 6 days for the details afterwards - god rested on the 7th! Allegedly.

    2. Scroticus Canis
      Alien

      Re: 500m years is not a lot of time to develop intelligent life anyway

      Still waiting around here.

      Beam me up Slartibartfast, we may have to start over with this one.

    3. Ragarath

      Re: Well, the sun is only going to be in red giant phase for 500M years or so

      500m years! You can create loads in that time, it only took God less than a day!

      (If you can call Man AKA humans intelligent)

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        About this transition from snowball to overheated greenhouse...

        It's not like it's going to be instant. We could be talking many hundreds or thousands of years, short in geological time but potentially interesting to any carbon-based ape-descended digital-watch-wearing folk that are out there and looking for a temporary home.

  3. Phil Bennett

    I thought the point of Europa was that there could be liquid water under the ice? I mean, yes, this rules out waiting around for the sun to warm up to the point where ice melts, but who cares? If there is liquid water down there we need to check if there is anything living. If so, fantastic! If not, we've got a new source of water in the outer solar system. If we're still going when the next step change in solar radiation happens, we will deal with it then without going to a temporary refuge.

    1. MondoMan

      yep, we're interested in the water UNDER the ice

      Phil, you're exactly right.

      The article errs in claiming that "Other bodies such as Enceladus and Europa lack these processes, and with no help from greenhouse gases, the temperature is determined solely on the energy they receive from the Sun."

      The large tidal forces generated by the proximity to a gas giant planet can create plenty of internal heating in such moons, and are thought to be the energy source powering Io's famous volcanoes. Talk about climate scientists missing the forest for the trees!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: yep, we're interested in the water UNDER the ice

        The tidal forces generate enough warmth to melt water, but do they crate points of heat that might cause interesting chemistry (like our seabed vents) to occur?

        1. F111F

          Re: yep, we're interested in the water UNDER the ice

          We'll find out when the ice melts...but there is precedent for ice (pressure) holding back eruptions in Iceland.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: yep, we're interested in the water UNDER the ice

            Why don't we just go and have a look? It's not like we don't have efficient interplanetary drives and a solid manned orbital infrastructure is it?

            Oh bugger. I forgot we handed over the job to stay-at-home, pro-robot time-wasters after Apollo.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: yep, we're interested in the water UNDER the ice

              "we handed over the job to stay-at-home, pro-robot time-wasters after Apollo."

              Unfortunately, politics entered the mix, back in the 70's. I could enumerate the details, but it's all there if someone wants to look for it.

              Apollo had at least 2 moon launches canceled, an Apollo/Soyuz mission and Skylab re-purposed the remaining hardware [except that which became museum pieces], and for some stupid reason, the USA seemed to lose their passion for manned space exploration. [I never did]

              I blame the politicians and the driving forces behind them [which isn't "the people"].

              It was kinda like being neutered, in a way...

              1. Just Enough

                Re: yep, we're interested in the water UNDER the ice

                "Unfortunately, politics entered the mix,"

                Ha. The Apollo missions were entirely about politics right from the start, at least in the eyes of the people who allocated the money. It was entirely about US reaction to Soviet threat. It was super-power dick-measuring.

                Things got cancelled because the race was over, the US won. End of story. No-one in power was interested any more because it was obvious that any military advantages from space exploration could be had for far cheaper and greatest effect in low orbit.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do we know lifeforms don't exist in the Sun but we're too dumb or insignificant to communicate with them ?

    "As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know"

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      How do we know lifeforms don't exist in the Sun but we're too dumb or insignificant to communicate with them ?

      Let's fire some rockets at one of it's satellites to destroy it. That ought to be enough to provoke them into making contact. I cannot foresee any possible fiascos that could arise from this course of action.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "How do we know lifeforms don't exist in the Sun but we're too dumb or insignificant to communicate with them ?"

      We don't but it is hard to conceive of any sustainable complexity that could arise, never mind thrive, in that maelstrom of energies.

      Hard but, admittedly, not impossible given that our understanding is not complete.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh good

    I'll stop holding my breath.

  6. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Alien

    Gravity and Van Allen Belt

    I think that there's a lot more favourable about Earth's environment:

    * It has a moon, so a stable tilt, seasons, and tides.

    * It has enough gravity to retain an atmosphere, all the gas and water will just escape into space, and an ozone layer significantly reduces the UV, so that life isn't burnt away on the surface.

    * It has a large enough magnetic core and stable enough rotation, to cause a strong enough magnetic field, thus the Van Allen Belt, which shields against most of the hard solar and interstellar radiation.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Gravity and Van Allen Belt

      Also, Infernoz, I am lead to believe that the presence of Jupiter in the outer solar system may have soaked up some of the really big impacts earlier on, so protecting developing life.

      Obviously it didn't help the Dinosaurs that one time, but it may have saved them many other times, we will never know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gravity and Van Allen Belt

        "...the presence of Jupiter in the outer solar system may have soaked up some of the really big impacts..."

        The idea that Jupiter protects us from potential impactors is a bit of a misconception, largely promoted by melodramatic low-brow science documentaries.

        Jupiter's greatest influence is its gravity, which is as likely to divert asteroids and comets etc. towards Earth as it is to divert them away from Earth.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gravity and Van Allen Belt

      "...the Van Allen Belt, which shields against most of the hard solar and interstellar radiation."

      It's the Earth's magnetosphere that shields us against hard solar radiation; the Van Allen belts are regions within the magnetosphere where some of this solar radiation gets trapped.

  7. Faux Science Slayer

    NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

    Climaclownology is Chicken Little science with Jack-in-the-Beanstalk solutions....

    "Mommie, Can We Play Obombie Truth Origami"

    " Spencer Sorcery on Magic Gas"....both at FauxScienceSlayer.com

    1. Rattus Rattus

      Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

      Is AMFM breeding?

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

        "Is AMFM breeding?"

        As someone who has from time to time tried to construct a typology of the crazy I can assure you that they're very different breeds of nonsense.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

      "Magic Gas".... at FauxScienceSlayer.com"

      'Nuff said!

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

        "Magic Gas".... at FauxScienceSlayer.com"

        Also known as brainfarts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

      My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. Right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

        My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. Right?

        Huh, I'll bet my Dad's more ignorant than your Dad.

    4. Scroticus Canis
      Facepalm

      Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

      So gas lasers are a myth then?

    5. Florida1920 Silver badge

      Re: NO gas molecule can capture, store, redirect or amplify radiant energy photons....

      In the past 100 years, Kirwan said, 100,000 acres of forest in the Chesapeake Bay has converted to marshland. Photographs show the rate of coastal forest loss is four times greater now than it was during the 1930s, he said.

      Seas off the East Coast have risen by 1.3 feet over the last 100 years, said Ben Horton, a Rutgers University professor and expert on sea level rise. That is a faster pace than for the past 2,000 years combined, he said.

      http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/seas-rise-trees-die-climate-change-eyes-48961148

  8. TheElder

    Earth is unique

    I often wonder just how common our planet is. There are so many things that if you change them just a little bit we die or never exist. Just the Moon could be huge problems if it was a bit different or if it never existed. Then there are things like killing the dinos. Five going on six extinctions. All the asteroid issues. It is a very long list. Maybe we really are very lonely.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Earth is unique

      You could say it's a long list, but I think several of those things are inextricably linked so that there are actually fewer significant items to take into account. Tectonic activity puts GHG into the atmosphere so we have a world with liquid water, but also assists extinctions (eg the Deccan Traps). It's also not always a list of bad things: the first mass extinction was caused by the rise of oxygen-producing life, for example, which actually counts in our favour, but the oxygen then reacted with the methane in the upper atmosphere and triggered a Snowball Earth. The main point is that all these events are drivers of evolution, so once you have life -- to borrow a quote -- life finds a way.

    2. anonCoward24
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Earth is unique, Occam's

      Oh gosh, it's like, uh, like the simplest explanation is if some..., something, oh my, someONE, ...

      no, no way, it MUST be justa coincidence, or else we would have to obey some rules of behaviour...

      No, can't have THAT! Must be free of rules.

      It's all just the way it is folks, VERY, very very complicated coincidences, but really nothing special, life is just the product of very ordinary accidental events, no higher power nuthin nothing to see here, anyone tells you otherwise he's some sort of extremist. Free, we must be free!

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Earth is unique, Occam's

        Dude, if you need an external authority bogyman/deity to tell you not to be an asshat, you are not morally superior - you are a sociopath.

  9. Palpy

    Logical fallacy!

    "The Earth is soooo special because it is so precisely tuned -- and Mooned -- to give rise to life!"

    But non, mes amis!

    Life on Earth is particularly tuned to the peculiarities of the Earth-Moon system. Life on Enceladus would be particularly tuned to the peculiarities of the Enceladus-Jupiter system.

    And who wants to wait around for the Sun to go all red-giant on us anyway? At that point, the Earth will be spectacularly inhospitable to organic life as we know it as well.

    Life is apparently able to exist in damned hot rocks deep underground. In damned cold rocks in Antarctica. Anaerobically as well as aerobically. Chemosynthetically as well as photosynthetically. Up your nose and on your toes, to list two of the most hospitable environs.

    Long past time for us Earthlings to get over ourselves and our planet.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Logical fallacy!

      Interesting point @Palpy

      The "Enceladus-Jupiter system" could be an interesting subject for study. Alas, Enceladus is a moon of Saturn, so any influence Jupiter has on it is pretty tenuous.

      1. Palpy
        Pint

        Re: Logical fallacy!

        Well, that proves I should never post after beer -- can't tell Jupiter from a ringer like Saturn, I guess.

        A beer for you, MyffyW, and I'm glad you caught me out.

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Uisge Beatha

    ...water - a key ingredient needed to support life

    ...to support life as we know it FTFY

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio..."

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Uisge Beatha

      It's life Jim, but not as we know it.

      1. Toltec

        Re: Uisge Beatha

        Dammit Jim, beam it to sickbay now.

        Sorry!

  11. Scroticus Canis
    Paris Hilton

    Why was water left out of the list of green house gases?

    It's the main one on Earth isn't it?

  12. TheElder

    More on Earth is unique

    Why was water left out of the list of green house gases?

    Interesting confirmation:

    Other planets may never be as hospitable as Earth

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: More on Earth is unique

      Interesting. Still, given 10^10 (?) galaxies times 10^10 (again, ?) solar systems in each galaxy, the existence of habitable planets is virtually certain even if the individual chance of a solar system having an habitable planet is VERY small.

      Run-on sentences, I have heard what that is.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: More on Earth is unique

      million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

      God bless you Sir Pterry

      (Isn't it time we had a Big Black Hat icon?)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We really ought to care more that intelligent conscious life might be an unfathomably rare cosmic one-time-only fluke, and not be so fucking awful to each other all the time.

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