Unit essay

Lifein the Universe

Thelife of super planets

In the book “The life of super planets”, expertastronomer, Dimitar Sasselov, discusses some of the major findings oninvestigations of the universe. Much of the research relates toinvestigations carried out in the laboratory relating to syntheticbiology and how it can lead to better understanding of alien life inother planets outside the solar system. The most interesting idea isSasselov’s claim that super-earths have better chances of harboringlife than earth-sized planets. Personally, I have been interested instudies that relate to investigations about alien life. Sasselovwrites that lab tests here on earth could provide importantinformation on the origins of life which would also help astronomersin their search for alien life and understanding extraterrestrialbodies. Thus, before scientists can understand extraterrestrial life,they have to understand the origins of life here on earth betterthrough lab experiments. An interesting issue with the book is thatit relates to discoveries made as of 2012 and thus it is not updatedon certain developments with NASA having already identified severalearth-sized planets with the potential to support life. Nonetheless,the fact that the book acknowledges the possibility of alien lifemakes it very interesting in my view.

Detectingextra-solar planets

Recent extra-solar explorations have shown that there are severalthousand planets in the universe. These planets orbit around otherstars similar to the sun and vary in size and composition. Some ofthe planets located in the habitable zones of these stars haveattracted more attention from scientists. Planets in the habitablezone are defined as planets orbiting around a star at a distancesimilar to the distance of the earth from the sun. At such adistance, the planets are neither too hot nor too cold and thus canretain liquid water and an atmosphere. The idea that there couldaliens living in these planets has remained popular with many peoplewith myths of unidentified foreign objects (UFOs) being spotted andfilms on the same have popularized it. Furthermore, these discoveriesof new planets and stars have helped to create new knowledge that hassolved some core questions in astronomy and science in general(Cockell 12). As technology continues to advance, there is hope thateven more discoveries will be made and the origins of life and thefuture of earth will better be understood. Hopefully, new researchwill help explain whether there are aliens or not.


Earlier this year, the world was treated to the clearest images yetof the dwarf planet Pluto. Previously, Pluto was classified as aplanet before being demoted to a dwarf planet. Several months later,NASA has announced another flyby of planet Jupiter by NASA’s Junospacecraft expected to take place on the 4th of July thisyear. The spacecraft is expected to enter Jupiter’s orbit andcircle the planet from a distance of about 5,000 kilometers. Thismarks another important milestone in astronomy as more informationabout the planet such as its origins, structure, atmosphere andmagnetosphere will be better understood. Scientists and all peopleall over the world will be waiting anxiously to for the flyby thatwill provide more information about Jupiter. As is the case with thebook by Sasselov as noted earlier in the paper, such new knowledge onnew discoveries must be adopted by the academic field as morediscoveries are happening regularly.


Cockell, Charles.Astrobiology: Understanding Life in the Universe. New York:Wiley. 2015.


NASA. NASA`sJuno Spacecraft Crosses Jupiter/Sun Gravitational Boundary. Web.31st May

2016. 27th May 2016.&lthttp://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasas-juno-spacecraft-crosses-jupitersun-gravitational-boundary&gt

Sasselov, Dimitar.The life of super planets: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds andArtificial Cells

WillRevolutionize Life on Our Planet. New York: Basic Books. 2012.Print.