Shop Windows to the Universe

Become a nitrogen atom in the nitrogen cycle in our Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit/Game. See all our games, activity kits and classroom activities.
This is an image of ducks - lifeforms on Earth.
Click on image for full size
Perfect Vision Graphics

Life on other Planets

Life as we know it on earth is carbon based and requires a certain environment to survive. Even so, there are creatures on earth which seem to be able to survive in harsh environments, where the temperatures are very cold, or where there is little water or oxygen. It is environments like these which are similar to those found on other planets.

Sophisticated life forms are relative newcomers on Earth compared to bacteria and archaea. They arrived later because the Earth proved to be a healthy environment over a long period of time. Because the environment of other planets is more primitive, life on other planets (if it exists) may be primitive. If not, then life would have developed the ability to withstand otherworldly environments as well as finding material for food. We might have to imagine what such creatures would be like.

Primitive life forms may have an easier time in a harsh environment. All life will leave behind certain signs that it has been there. Scientists recently thought that they had found some of these signs on a Martian meteorite, but it turned out to be untrue. No concrete evidence of life anywhere other than life has been found.

Here we present a look an the environments of some places in the solar system; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Io, Europa, Saturn, Titan, other moons, Uranus, Neptune, Triton, Pluto, comets, and interstellar space.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Spring 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, focuses on the ocean, including articles on polar research, coral reefs, ocean acidification, and climate. Includes a gorgeous full color poster!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Creatures which live in Harsh Environments

There are many types of living things that are able to live in difficult environments on Earth. The picture to the left shows an example of some of these creatures. These are tubeworms that live at the...more

Looking for Life's Garbage

Most forms of life leave behind evidence that they are there. Plants help make oxygen and use up carbon dioxide. Some creatures help make nitrogen. People leave behind smog, television signals, and garbage....more

The possible discovery of Life on Mars

In July, 1996, it was announced that Dr. David McKay, along with a team of scientists at Johnson Space Center (a division of NASA), had discovered possible fossils of bacteria in a meteorite named ALH84...more

Can there be Life in the Environment of Jupiter?

Jupiter's atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, strong winds, from 225 miles per hour to 1000 miles per hour, and cold temperatures of -270 degrees to +32 degrees (freezing temperature)....more

The Environment of Saturn

Saturn's atmospheric environment is one of strong gravity, high pressure, strong winds, from 225 miles per hour to 1000 miles per hour, and cold temperatures of -270 degrees to +80 degrees. With winds...more

Can there be Life in the Environment of Titan?

Titan's atmosphere is a lot like the Earth's, except that it is very cold, from -330 degrees to -290 degrees! Like the Earth, there is a lot of Nitrogen and other complex molecules. There also may be an...more

Autotrophs

Autotrophs are organisms that can "make their own food" from an inorganic source of carbon (carbon dioxide) given a source of energy. Most autotrophs use sunlight in the process of photosynthesis to make...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF