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Different Is More: The Value of Finding an Inhabited Planet That Is Far from Earth2.0.

08:00 EDT 14th August 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Different Is More: The Value of Finding an Inhabited Planet That Is Far from Earth2.0."

The search for an inhabited planet, beyond our own, is a driver of planetary exploration in our solar system and beyond. Using information from our own planet to inform search strategies allows for a targeted search. It is, however, worth considering some span in the strategy and in expectation. An inhabited, Earth-like planet is one that would be similar to Earth in ways that extend beyond having biota. To facilitate a comparative cost/risk/benefit analysis of different potential search strategies, we use a metric akin to the Earth-similarity index. The metric extends from zero, for an inhabited planet that is like Earth in all other regards (, zero differences), toward end-member values for planets that differ from Earth but maintain life potential. The analysis shows how finding inhabited planets that do not share other Earth characteristics could improve our ability to assess galactic life potential without a large increase in time-commitment costs. Search strategies that acknowledge the possibility of such planets can minimize the potential of exploration losses (, searching for long durations to reach conclusions that are biased). Discovering such planets could additionally provide a test of the Gaia hypothesis-a test that has proven difficult when using only Earth as a laboratory. Finally, we discuss how an Earth2.0 narrative that has been presented to the public as a search strategy comes with nostalgia-laden baggage that does not best serve exploration.

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Name: Astrobiology
ISSN: 1557-8070
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