Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

Exploratour - NASA's Exploration for Life, page 1 - Windows to the Universe

Shop Windows to the Universe

Young Voices for the Planet DVD in our online store includes 8 films where students speak out and take action on climate change.

Exploratour: NASA's Exploration for Life


Corel Photography

Where might we find extraterrestrial life in the solar system, and in what ways might an habitable place be different from Earth?
  • Warmth?
    • It seems that the temperature on Earth (room temperature, so to speak) is just right for life. More importantly, chemical reactions take place at just the right speed in temperature ranges found on Earth. The speed at which chemical reactions take place is relevant to the formation and existence of life; freezing temperatures are OK, reactions take a longer time, and blisteringly hot (oven temperatures) are also suitable for chemistry, but really extreme temperatures such as -300 F or 5000 F won't work. Thus an habitable planet can't be too cold or life wont be abe to get started. Billions of years might pass before the relevant chemicals are exchanged because the chemical reactions take too long. And a planet can't be too hot or molecules wont stay together long enough to form solid matter.
  • Oxygen?
    • seems to be essential for life
  • Water?
    • water is a source of oxygen
  • Protection from Ultra Violet rays
    • Ultra Violet light breaks molecules apart
Thus we might expect to find life on planets like our own which are near the Sun. Planets such as Mars or Venus. Another suitable place might be in the atmosphere of Jupiter or the other outer planets where the temperatures are a toasty 80 degrees or so. For a clearer idea of what to look for, we must start with a clear idea of what life is. At least life as we know it on Earth.

(Since this tour is meant to introduce you to portions of our site which you might not be aware of, you may read more details about what we just discussed by leaving the tour and using links provided at the bottom of the page. To continue with the tour press the forward link in the upper corner of this page).



This is page 1 of 20

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

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

Exploratour - Life in the Solar System

Life on Earth obtains energy in many types of formats. The two main process are photosynthesis and respiration. Photosynthesis is the name of the process by which autotrophs (self-feeders) convert water,...more

Exploratour - The Surface of Europa

This is a collage of some of the photos taken by the Galileo spacecraft. Scientists did not know what to expect when they took these pictures. We will walk you through the photos and describe what they...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Look at the bed below the body of the sleeping man. You can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

All warm objects (not just people) release infrared light. Warmer objects give off more infrared light. Very hot objects radiate other types of light as well. Click on the picture to see the infrared...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

What kinds of light can people see? Our eyes can see visible light. When it passes into our eyes different types of visible light create different sensations that we see as colors. ...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...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