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Practicality of habitable moons in Sci-Fi.

Skynet
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6/20/2014 9:57:43 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I've tried this before, and it wasn't a productive conversation because of SOMEONE who I haven't seen on the site for a while. But I still wonder, is life as we know it possible on an Earth like moon of a gas giant? More directly, if Earth were to magically lose the Moon, and instead we were orbiting a gas giant at our current distance from the Sun, would be be OK?

Keep in mind, the gas giant doesn't have to be the size of Jupiter. It could be Neptune or maybe smaller.

Would the gas giant's magnetic field be enough to protect us from ionizing stellar and solar radiation? Would we pass through deadly Van Allen belts of the gas giant?

Would the day/night cycle be too strange?

Would tides be too strong or too weak, or could the distance from, and size of, the gas giant be OK to ensure tides were about normal?

Do gas giants reflect too much radiation?

Would we become tidally locked in a few centuries? Would it matter since our orbital cycle would be drastically reduced, and we could go behind the shadow of the giant every "month"?

Would long distance space travel be more pheasable because of better access to higher Oberth effect?
One perk to being a dad is you get to watch cartoons again without explaining yourself.
AlbinoBunny
Posts: 3,781
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6/22/2014 3:41:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
We lose the moon and orbit a gas giant? Where did the Sun go?
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Skynet
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6/23/2014 9:39:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/22/2014 3:41:36 PM, AlbinoBunny wrote:
We lose the moon and orbit a gas giant? Where did the Sun go?

Our gas giant orbits the Sun, and we become a moon of the gas giant.
One perk to being a dad is you get to watch cartoons again without explaining yourself.
Mr_Soundboard
Posts: 62
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6/24/2014 6:02:58 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/23/2014 9:39:19 PM, Skynet wrote:
At 6/22/2014 3:41:36 PM, AlbinoBunny wrote:
We lose the moon and orbit a gas giant? Where did the Sun go?

Our gas giant orbits the Sun, and we become a moon of the gas giant.

so many factors come into play, such as, is our distance from the Sun still the same? what is our day/night cycle like? orbit? temperature? climate? how big is this planet we're orbiting? wouldn't that affect the gravity on Earth?
"Conscience is universal, the ability to adhere to that moral thought is not"
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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6/24/2014 11:01:59 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/20/2014 9:57:43 PM, Skynet wrote:
I've tried this before, and it wasn't a productive conversation because of SOMEONE who I haven't seen on the site for a while. But I still wonder, is life as we know it possible on an Earth like moon of a gas giant? More directly, if Earth were to magically lose the Moon, and instead we were orbiting a gas giant at our current distance from the Sun, would be be OK?

Keep in mind, the gas giant doesn't have to be the size of Jupiter. It could be Neptune or maybe smaller.

Would the gas giant's magnetic field be enough to protect us from ionizing stellar and solar radiation? Would we pass through deadly Van Allen belts of the gas giant?

Would the day/night cycle be too strange?

Would tides be too strong or too weak, or could the distance from, and size of, the gas giant be OK to ensure tides were about normal?

Do gas giants reflect too much radiation?

Would we become tidally locked in a few centuries? Would it matter since our orbital cycle would be drastically reduced, and we could go behind the shadow of the giant every "month"?

Would long distance space travel be more pheasable because of better access to higher Oberth effect?

This is one potential candidate of a habital planet around a red dwarf.

Red dwarfs are far less luminous than the sun and therefore hospital bodies need to be closer..

But the closer the body the faster it becomes tidally locked to the star. This would make life tough to evolve there. But on a moon it might be possible, as it overcomes that issue.

I don't see it as the most likely candidate for extraterrestrial life though...
Skynet
Posts: 674
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6/24/2014 11:36:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/24/2014 11:01:59 AM, Envisage wrote:
At 6/20/2014 9:57:43 PM, Skynet wrote:
I've tried this before, and it wasn't a productive conversation because of SOMEONE who I haven't seen on the site for a while. But I still wonder, is life as we know it possible on an Earth like moon of a gas giant? More directly, if Earth were to magically lose the Moon, and instead we were orbiting a gas giant at our current distance from the Sun, would be be OK?

Keep in mind, the gas giant doesn't have to be the size of Jupiter. It could be Neptune or maybe smaller.

Would the gas giant's magnetic field be enough to protect us from ionizing stellar and solar radiation? Would we pass through deadly Van Allen belts of the gas giant?

Would the day/night cycle be too strange?

Would tides be too strong or too weak, or could the distance from, and size of, the gas giant be OK to ensure tides were about normal?

Do gas giants reflect too much radiation?

Would we become tidally locked in a few centuries? Would it matter since our orbital cycle would be drastically reduced, and we could go behind the shadow of the giant every "month"?

Would long distance space travel be more pheasable because of better access to higher Oberth effect?

This is one potential candidate of a habital planet around a red dwarf.

Red dwarfs are far less luminous than the sun and therefore hospital bodies need to be closer..

But the closer the body the faster it becomes tidally locked to the star. This would make life tough to evolve there. But on a moon it might be possible, as it overcomes that issue.

I don't see it as the most likely candidate for extraterrestrial life though...

It's considered heresy in some circles, but I don't believe it is likely there is extraterrestrial life at all.
But what a conversation killer!

It's a common theme in sci-fi: Endor's moon, Yavin 4, Pandora, Reach, etc.

Question: Why would the star type have to be different than what we have now? Wouldn't a red dwarf not put out enough UV for our vegetation?

It would seem more likely to be tidally locked being that close to a gas giant, than this far out from a star.

But let's say we are tidally locked around our gas giant. Orbital periods around gas giants range from 7+ hours for Io, to 1000hrs way out there. Not much different with smaller gas giant's moons. So we could still conceivably turn on our axis relative to the sun every 24hrs. The day would be the same, we'd just have an eclipse every day behind the gas giant.
One perk to being a dad is you get to watch cartoons again without explaining yourself.
Skynet
Posts: 674
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6/24/2014 11:37:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Could tides work with additional moons passing by? Or must we not be orbitally locked?
One perk to being a dad is you get to watch cartoons again without explaining yourself.
Brendan21
Posts: 294
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6/26/2014 10:12:58 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Life is extremely possible on moons, but it would depend on the composition of the moon. For your original scenario, if the Earth suddenly become a moon of a gas giant, life as we know it on Earth would need. Only an incredible small, if any, amount of life would survive and it would be organisms that already can survive extreme conditions. How life would evolve from there is anyone's guess, and would depend on many factors.

As for the overall possibility, I find it very likely that we will discover some type of life (dead or alive) some where in our solar system beyond Earth. The highest candidates for life besides an ancient Mars is Europa, a moon that's a giant ball of ice that shows evidence of having an ocean in the interior. Or Ganymede could also have life, as it has oceans on its subsurface as well.
TRUECRISTIAN
Posts: 46
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6/27/2014 1:39:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Are you saved? The reason I ask is because you seem to be very ignorant. So that leads me to believe that you really have no understanding of the Lord. To someone who believes the Lord well enough to tell you about the free gift you can receive, called SALVATION. Salvation is the only way you will enter the kingdom of heaven. You have to believe with all your heart that God sacrificed his only begotten Son Jesus Christ for all our sins. You also must believe that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and resurrected in 3 days. I will pray for you that you allow yourself this gift and become a true Christian in the army of the Lord. If you choose to remain ignorant lost soul, enjoy your life in hell.
Skynet
Posts: 674
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6/28/2014 9:56:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/27/2014 1:39:28 AM, TRUECRISTIAN wrote:
Are you saved? The reason I ask is because you seem to be very ignorant. So that leads me to believe that you really have no understanding of the Lord. To someone who believes the Lord well enough to tell you about the free gift you can receive, called SALVATION. Salvation is the only way you will enter the kingdom of heaven. You have to believe with all your heart that God sacrificed his only begotten Son Jesus Christ for all our sins. You also must believe that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and resurrected in 3 days. I will pray for you that you allow yourself this gift and become a true Christian in the army of the Lord. If you choose to remain ignorant lost soul, enjoy your life in hell.


I've looked at your posts, and as a Christian, I don't want people equating your views with mine. I am guessing you are a troll. If you are not, you are not going about witnessing very well.
One perk to being a dad is you get to watch cartoons again without explaining yourself.
Oromagi
Posts: 857
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6/28/2014 11:43:53 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/20/2014 9:57:43 PM, Skynet wrote:
But I still wonder, is life as we know it possible on an Earth like moon of a gas giant?

We have no evidence yet, of course, but I think the scientific consensus would be yes to" life", probably not to "as we know it".

More directly, if Earth were to magically lose the Moon, and instead we were orbiting a gas giant at our current distance from the Sun, would be be OK?

Considering that life on earth is more or less fine tuned to the present conditions on Earth we would have to assume that such a change would be catastrophic for humans and most species. There are many undefined variables here including distance between the gas giant and the density of the gas giant and perhaps we could theorize a planet density and distance the would approximate Earth conditions enough to keep humanity alive, but I doubt it that's possible. In theory, if some particularly hardy species of lichens, tardigrades, or batcteria were to endure, we could expect new species to evolve adaptations to the new environment. I think we have to assume that these species might seem very alien to present-day Earthlings.

Would the gas giant's magnetic field be enough to protect us from ionizing stellar and solar radiation? Would we pass through deadly Van Allen belts of the gas giant?

Earth's orbit and the giant's density would again be important factors, seems like the least of our worries. Some scientists believe we could dissolve the inner belts pretty easily with present technology.

Would the day/night cycle be too strange?

Humans are very sensitive to small changes in diurnal cycles. We have to assume any significant change would be very toxic for humans.

Would tides be too strong or too weak, or could the distance from, and size of, the gas giant be OK to ensure tides were about normal?

Again, so much depends on orbit and size. The moon is a little more than 1/10th of the earth and we are familiar. The smallest possible gas giant is roughly ten times the mass of the Earth, or 100 times the weight of the moon. Obviously, the tidal forces of 100 moons have the potential to be exponentially more dynamic than present, so distance would be critical.

Do gas giants reflect too much radiation?

Like the Goldilocks zone, scientists speculate that planets also have goldilocks zones of radiation exposure starting at roughly 10 planetary diameters out that might permit some kind of life akin to earth. Go to far, and moons would not benefit from the gas giant's radiation shielding. We should assume that these goldilocks zones seldom intersect since either would occupy such a tiny fraction of any given solar system.

Would we become tidally locked in a few centuries? Would it matter since our orbital cycle would be drastically reduced, and we could go behind the shadow of the giant every "month"?

centuries? probably not. but Earth and Giant would certainly bulge in response to the force of gravity (accompanied by earthquakes to powerful to imagine) and larger Moons lock far more quickly than smaller, perhaps even just a few million years There is an equation that can be used to calculate the rate of locking but much depends on size, distance and composition.

Would long distance space travel be more pheasable because of better access to higher Oberth effect?

Maybe, but its hard to say. Consider also that any gas giant might provide fuel on a scale that dwarfs any modern propulsion. Jupiter has some 67 known satellites and Saturn has 62. It seems reasonable to expect that any inhabitants of a moon in a system of many many moons would be quicker to study the physics of gravity, orbit, etc.
Skynet
Posts: 674
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6/29/2014 10:47:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/28/2014 11:43:53 PM, Oromagi wrote:


Would the gas giant's magnetic field be enough to protect us from ionizing stellar and solar radiation? Would we pass through deadly Van Allen belts of the gas giant?

Earth's orbit and the giant's density would again be important factors, seems like the least of our worries. Some scientists believe we could dissolve the inner belts pretty easily with present technology.

Dissolve VanAllen belts? How? Could the energy be harnessed?


Would the day/night cycle be too strange?

Humans are very sensitive to small changes in diurnal cycles. We have to assume any significant change would be very toxic for humans.

They deal with it in the Arctic Circle. It would be possible for a moon to orbit a gas giant at a distance giving it a 24 hour orbit around the giant. (could that orbit intersect with a possible planetary goldilocks zone?) Even if it were tidally locked, the same side would always face the giant, but like our moon, both sides would have virtually equal time in the day and night. The only difference would be the "light" side of the moon (facing the giant) would pass behind the giant for a couple hours into a lunar eclipse. A solar eclipse every day at midday, morning or evening, depending on your location. My guess is this side would be a few degrees cooler on average. Or maybe not: They also have reflected light and heat from the giant at night, when they are on the sunward side of the giant.


Would tides be too strong or too weak, or could the distance from, and size of, the gas giant be OK to ensure tides were about normal?

Again, so much depends on orbit and size. The moon is a little more than 1/10th of the earth and we are familiar. The smallest possible gas giant is roughly ten times the mass of the Earth, or 100 times the weight of the moon. Obviously, the tidal forces of 100 moons have the potential to be exponentially more dynamic than present, so distance would be critical.

Giant earthquakes, even when tidally locked or at appropriate distance in a stable orbit? How big are quakes on known moons?

I guess I'm looking for a goldilocks zone where radiation is acceptable, day-night cycle is similar, gas giant size is correct to make tides, or other moons pass close enough to make something.


Do gas giants reflect too much radiation?

Like the Goldilocks zone, scientists speculate that planets also have goldilocks zones of radiation exposure starting at roughly 10 planetary diameters out that might permit some kind of life akin to earth. Go to far, and moons would not benefit from the gas giant's radiation shielding. We should assume that these goldilocks zones seldom intersect since either would occupy such a tiny fraction of any given solar system.

Would we become tidally locked in a few centuries? Would it matter since our orbital cycle would be drastically reduced, and we could go behind the shadow of the giant every "month"?

centuries? probably not. but Earth and Giant would certainly bulge in response to the force of gravity (accompanied by earthquakes to powerful to imagine) and larger Moons lock far more quickly than smaller, perhaps even just a few million years There is an equation that can be used to calculate the rate of locking but much depends on size, distance and composition.

Would long distance space travel be more pheasable because of better access to higher Oberth effect?

Maybe, but its hard to say. Consider also that any gas giant might provide fuel on a scale that dwarfs any modern propulsion. Jupiter has some 67 known satellites and Saturn has 62. It seems reasonable to expect that any inhabitants of a moon in a system of many many moons would be quicker to study the physics of gravity, orbit, etc.
One perk to being a dad is you get to watch cartoons again without explaining yourself.
Oromagi
Posts: 857
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6/30/2014 12:43:48 AM
Posted: 2 years ago

Dissolve VanAllen belts? How? Could the energy be harnessed?

I don't know if the contents of the belts themselves are worth harnessing but there's interesting stuff trapped there.

http://wattsupwiththat.com...

http://www.forbes.com...

Now all we need to invent is anti-matter containment and a way of colliding matter/anti-matter without destroying the Earth.

They deal with it in the Arctic Circle.

true enough but the depressive effects are significant over the long term.

It would be possible for a moon to orbit a gas giant at a distance giving it a 24 hour orbit around the giant. (could that orbit intersect with a possible planetary goldilocks zone?) Even if it were tidally locked, the same side would always face the giant, but like our moon, both sides would have virtually equal time in the day and night. The only difference would be the "light" side of the moon (facing the giant) would pass behind the giant for a couple hours into a lunar eclipse. A solar eclipse every day at midday, morning or evening, depending on your location. My guess is this side would be a few degrees cooler on average. Or maybe not: They also have reflected light and heat from the giant at night, when they are on the sunward side of the giant.

IO, Europa, and Ganymede orbit Jupiter in 2, 3.5, and 7 days but Ganymede with an orbit of 17 days is the only moon far enough to make the theorized goldilocks zone. Assuming Jupiter is representative of gas giant dynamic (let's face it, we haven't a clue) then I would finding such an orbit is not unrealistic and maybe even not all that unusual on a galactic scale.

Giant earthquakes, even when tidally locked or at appropriate distance in a stable orbit?

Really too many variables to speculate. We know our Earth has a nickel-iron core of unusual size perhaps stolen from the moon after collision. That keep Earth hotter and softer than an normal planet of the same size, surface water clearly makes a big difference. With more than maybe 100 billion planets to choose from, I would guess a an old satellite in stable orbit might be pretty light on plate tectonics. There might be many other variables- for example, if the planet is entirely covered in water we might not worry too much bout plate shifts below.

How big are quakes on known moons?

We can see evidence of tectonics on bigger moons, but I've got nothing on seismology relative to earth. Half of exoplanetary theoretical geologists think superearths would tend to be way more stable, half think plate tectonics are at least just as likely as on earth.

I guess I'm looking for a goldilocks zone where radiation is acceptable, day-night cycle is similar, gas giant size is correct to make tides, or other moons pass close enough to make something.

There's probably many other variables to consider before its nice for humans, but we can dream, right?

What about binary planets rather than a moon? 4/5th of star systems have two or more stars so I would think binary planets ought to form under the same gravitational dynamics.

But there are so many cool things about orbiting a gas giant. Think of how much more quickly humans would figure out astronomy when the sky is filled with a planet of many moons.

I like the speculation about a daily eclipse. I would like to read some sci-fi speculation about how what would seem like a fairly minor change might effect daily life. Most animals are either diurnal or nocturnal- would behavior adapt to the "the little night?"

Imagine a tribe on an outer hemisphere contininent that sees sun and stars every day but doesn't know about the planet they orbit while the a resident on the inner hemisphere sees stars and planet, but might never see the sun. How differently might mythology, scientific discovery rates, etc develop?

Have you ever read Asimov's "Nightfall?" It's a very different system config, but considering a planet that only sees stars once every thousand years has interesting implicatons.