The search for planets that could sustain life has been a priority for many scientists. Although NASA recently confirmed that Mars may have once had the building blocks for life, the best bet for finding a habitable planet lies outside our solar system. Scientists are using Jupiter, our solar system’s prized gas-giant, to find such hospitable worlds.
Using Jupiter’s magnetic field, astronomers are creating a model that will assist in the search of other radio signals which might be emitted by worlds outside our solar system.
“If we can get a handle on how to find direct radio emissions from large exoplanets, we can then eventually use these same techniques to study Earth-sized planets and determine which ones have magnetic fields.” Jake Turner, a doctoral student in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia, said in a statement.”
Many of the planets in our solar system (and presumably outside our solar system) have magnetic fields generated by their iron cores. It is essentially a necessity for any planet to sustain an atmosphere. They act like giant force fields, protecting the planet from the sun’s radiation and other harmful particles. In fact, that is why Mars is such a desolate wasteland (sorry Mars) because its magnetic field is so thin all atmosphere and surface water evaporated centuries ago.
“These magnetized Earth-sized planets would then be possible candidates to investigate further, looking for biological signatures, such as water vapor, in a search for life,” Turner added.
Finding a planet with a strong magnetic field could bring us closer to discovering another life-giving, Earth-like planet, or a gas giant. Gas-giants may not be ideal for your next camping trip, but they could possess moons that could be habitable. Jupiter has more than 60 moons, including Europa which is believed to be harboring under-surface oceans that could sustain life.