Activity 4: Concept Application- Who Can Live Here?

Obtain a handout from your teacher that describes an extreme environment found in our Solar System. Read the description and answer the following questions.

A. Clearly we do not have all the information that we need to fully understand the environment described in the handout. What question would you want to answer about this environment if you could send a single lander or orbiter to the planet or moon and perform just one test? Explain your reasoning.



B. Could any of the bacteria that we have studied survive on the moon or planet that you have read about? If so, state the type of bacteria that could survive and list the energy source and carbon source that the bacteria would use. If not, explain why none of these bacteria could survive.



C. What changes in the atmosphere or surface would most strongly increase the chance for life to exist on the planet or moon that your read about?



D. Design a hypothetical life form that could live in the environment that you read about. Describe in detail how this life form would interact with its environment. What would it use as an energy source or a carbon source? Would it be an aerobic or an anaerobic life form?



E. Recently many Jupiter-sized planets have been discovered orbiting other stars within the galaxy. Some of these planets are close enough to their companion stars that the planet's average temperature could be high enough for the presence of liquid water. However, since these planets are gas giants it is unlikely that life would have developed on these planets. Why, then, are these discoveries so important to our search for life beyond Earth?