Goto Tomoi, akadémiánk Junior diákja a közelmúltban egy asztrobiológia konferencián járt. Tapasztalatait és véleményét illusztrációkkal kiegészítve egy angol nyelvű esszében foglalta össze. A téma ne ijesszen meg senkit, szakirányú tudás nélkül is érdekfeszítő olvasmány!
In October, I had a chance to participate in an international astrobiology conference called “Missions to habitable worlds”, which took place in Hungarian Academy of Science. Many scientists from various areas of study gathered together and held presentations regarding astrobiology from their areas of point of view.
Presentations were mainly categorized to three themes, about the solar system, about exoplanets and about ground and space missions related to astrobiology. Since I am interested in astronomy, it was really exciting and fun to listen and learn lots and lots of new things from the experts! It would require several tens of pages to write them down all, so this report will focus on the things I deemed especially intriguing.
In my opinion, one of the most interesting presentation was the possible effect on a planet’s habitability caused by living forms. It would be too long if it was to be explained it in detail. So to sum up with, bioactivity helps keeping magnetosphere active by helping keeping plate tectonics active. Magnetosphere is one of the vital element for habitability since it shields us from hazardous charged particles from space. As a result of bioactivity, more water gets inside the mantle. This water will decrease the viscosity the mantle, and makes the movement of mantle easier. And this results in much more dynamo effect which induces the magnetosphere around the Earth. It is exciting since it means life might also have a role in keeping a planet habitable! Interestingly, in Earth’s history, the advent of life and the increase in mantle activities are coinciding!
Other conditions for life I found interesting were the radius and mass of planet. If a planet is larger than 2,5 Earth radius, the carbons inside the mantle does not get out of mantle into atmosphere because of less plate tectonics and less volcanic activity. This will result in much cooler planet because there will be less greenhouse gasses to heat the planet. Therefore, such larger planets will have smaller tolerance for habitable zone around their star. If the mass is too heavy, the hydrogen composed atmosphere which comes with the planet’s formation does not get blown away by the solar wind. It is bad for life because life as we know cannot live with hydrogen atmosphere. It makes me realize that we are were lucky to born in this relatively life friendly 1 Earth radius planet.
Moreover, upcoming ESA space missions were presented by mission teams themselves, varying from space probes to explore inside solar system to space telescopes for studying exoplanets. What I found most exciting was the Exomars mission which will send rover to Mars. It might be able to find life on mars if it exists! Exomars will drill into 2 m under surface, which is the depths where the radiation from space might be low enough for life to survive.
It was really fun and inspiring participating in this conference. It was an amazing experience to be able to learn exclusively about what I am interested in for two days. This conference has given me the motivation to learn more Mathematics and Physics in order to be able to understand and study this interesting and exciting theme!