Rare movieEarth

"A review of habitable zones—for animals as well as microbes, and in the galaxy and Universe as well as around our sun—leads to an inescapable conclusion: Earth is a rare place indeed"(RE:33).

Posted: July 20, 2005

Last Updated: October 1, 2005


'Rare Earth Factors':

"Right Distance from Star:

Habitat for complex life. Liquid water near surface. Far enough to avoid tidal lock.

Right Mass of Star:

Long enough lifetime. Not too much ultraviolet.

Right Planetary Mass:

Retain atmosphere and ocean. Enough heat for plate tectonics. Solid/molten core.

Plate Tectonics:

CO2-silicate thermostat. Build up land mass. Enhance biotic diversity. Enable magnetic field.

Jupiter-like Neighbor:

Clear out comets and asteroids. Not too close, not too far.

Large Moon:

Right distance. Stabilizes tilt.

The right tilt:

Seasons not too severe.

The Right Amount of Carbon:

Enough for life. Not enough for Runaway Greenhouse.

Evolution of Oxygen:

Invention of photosynthesis. Not too much or too little. Evolves at the right time.

Right Position in Galaxy:

Not in center, edge or halo.

Atmospheric Properties:

Maintenance of adequate temperature, composition and pressure for plants and animals.

Giant Impacts:

Few giant impacts. No global sterilizing impacts after an initial period.

“Wild Cards”:

Snowball Earth. Cambrian explosion. Inertial interchange event.

Right Kind of Galaxy:

Enough heavy elements. Not small, elliptical, or irregular" (RE:xxxi-xxxii).


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