Tuesday, June 27, 2017

NatGeo: "The Next Earth": what if mankind does have to find a new home?


National Geographic has a special coffee table issue “The Next Earth: What Our World Can Teach Us About Other Planets”, by Tom Jones and Ellen Stofan.   Somehow I'm reminded of the 1990s series "Earth II" with Anthony Saboto.

There is a spectacular photo of Chixulub, Yucatan, Mexico, where a 6-mile long comet crashed 65 million years ago and changed the history of Earth and made us possible.

There is a lot of comparable geology of Venus and Mars, both of which have volcanoes larger than any on Earth (even the Yellowstone Caldera).

There is a pretty thorough exploration of what we know about possible life on Mars and in the ocean of Europa, and some discussion of Titan (I have a review of a BBC film about Titan today on my movie’s page).



But the most interesting photo probably occurs on p. 106, an artist’s sketch of a desert landscape on an Earth-like planet in the Goldilocks zone around Proxima Centauri B, a red dwarf star, the closest to Earth.  The planet is probably tidally locked, which would make the habitable area of perpetual twilight and mild temperatures smaller. Tidally locked planets may have strong winds.

Stephen Hawking is reported to have said that mankind has about 100 years to escape Earth (by drawings straws?)

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