It’s been estimated that a good percentage of planets beyond our solar system may be water worlds.
We here on mother Earth like to think of our blue green marble as a water world. Indeed it is watery, and water is pretty much the reason anything lives here at all. That’s why astrobiologists naturally seek signs of water on exoplanets. “Follow the Water” is a central tenet in the search for extraterrestrial life.
But compared to some worlds, earth really isn’t that waterlogged at all. It’s 0.002 percent water by mass. Only a tiny fraction of that water is available to terrestrial life. That water which isn’t directly involved in biological processes is linked to them, linking life to the planet via seasons and climate.
Some exoplanets are believed to be up to fifty percent water! These are true ocean worlds. To date, up to thirty five percent of exoplanets larger than may be covered by vast layers of water that may or may not harbour life. The jury is well out on that, but the idea is intriguing (and tempting) as the traditional definition of habitable zones is being stretched and reinterpreted.
For now, we have only our imaginations with which to explore these worlds…
Hi all. This post is essentially the script for a YouTube episode I have coming up on my Ben’s Lab channel. Like the “Holiday on Venus” episode, this one also is meant to depict a TV or radio presenter, outlining a vacation package across the solar system. Zip on past this video if you like, but it provides a bit of continuity for the script.
“Do you love risking life and limb? Do you think extreme sports is the perfect way to relax? Well then strap yourselves in! Did you love your trip to Venus! Venus is the testing ground for the Apocalypse! Not for the faint hearted!
If you thought Venus was hardcore, and you’re thirsty for more, Time-X has the ultimate vacation package for you! A grand tour of the craziest places in the Solar System! Let’s go!!!!
Mars! Been there, done that, I know, but have you seen a REAL Grand Canyon! Valles Marineris: the longest Canyon in the solar system! Not only the longest, but the deepest!
Those guys in Norway back in the old days… thought they were pretty cool jumping off cliffs, here, swooping down gracefully in their seagull suits! How do you think they’d like to jump into this bad boy! At 2485 miles long, there’s plenty of parking! That’s the distance from San Francisco to Washington. Or, just a bit more than the distance from Sydney to Perth! Holy Frehole! Not only is this canyon long, stretching a quarter of the way around Mars, it’s deep: 7 km deep in places. Hooley Dooley! Cliff jumpers will go insane for this place!
Should we tell them there’s almost no atmosphere on Mars, and they’ll drop like stones?…..Nah!
Still on Mars!
Enjoy a sunrise atop Olympus Mons. Sounds lovely! At an altitude of 21.9 kilometres! That’s pretty tall! How tall is Mount Everest in comparison? Do we even care? Look, look at the little poopoo! Nawwww!!! Olympus Mons is an extremely ancient shield volcano, which has long since become extinct. Climbing its slope, you’d actually be virtually standing in outer space once reaching the peak! What’s not to like about that?
Moving on… ahem!
Next stop, Vesta, a lovely little chunk of prime real estate in the Asteroid belt. Boasting lots of peace and quiet and some really epic views, Vesta has the tallest mountain in the Solar System: Rheasilvia.
Plopped right in the middle of a gigantic crater that takes up 90 percent of the diameter of Vesta, this monster was formed by a meaty impact with something really big and mean around 1 billion years ago. Sorry Olympus Mons, Rheasilvia is just a little bit higher than you, at 22 km.
Let’s head further out! Where are we now?
Io, orbiting Jupiter, is the most geologically active object in the solar system! Did someone say geology? That doesn’t sound very extreme, you say. What does that mean for the extreme sports nut? Well, Io has 400activevolcanoes! 400! Ride your mountain bike down one of those- there’s no shortage of them! Just ride really fast! This place is a little bit too extreme! I’m not hanging around for that!
We haven’t forgotten water sports! Europa is the place to go for extreme deep sea diving! Back on earth the deepest point in the ocean is the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean, which gets to 12 km below sea level. You could hide majestic Mount Everest inside it. Poor Everest, a little bit inadequate today!
Europa orbits Jupiter, and looks pretty serene, but that pretty icy shell hides an ocean averaging 62 km deep! I’d like to explore that myself! Just be mindful though, extreme sportsters; Europa may have it’s own life. No littering and no feeding the natives!
That’s some pretty serious water! On to our next stop: Neptune and Uranus!
If extreme weather is your thing, then line up! Go hang-gliding in these winds! On Uranus, winds in the upper atmosphere blow along at over 900 kph!
Stop the world, I wanna get off!
But wait, there’s more!
On Neptune, similar winds scream along at a brain splattering 2100 kph! Just think about it. Whiplash from hell, anyone?
If you still can’t get jumping off rocks out of your system, then you will LOVE Miranda, one of the moons of Uranus. What’s so great about Miranda?
Only the TALLEST CLIFFS IN THE ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM!!
For some colon twisting thrills, these cliffs fit the bill. At 20 km deep, it’ll be a real high jump! Thing is though, we offer this jump to newbies. Why? Because with Miranda’s tiny gravity, it’ll take 12 minutes to fall to the bottom! You’ll hit pretty hard, at about 200 kph, but a tonne of bubble wrap will get around that! We do give a Seniors discount for this jump.
Well those places are nasty, no doubt, But never let it be said that we at Time-X are not discerning purveyors of the ultimate in bowel clenching excitement!
Let’s leave the Solar system altogether! Hurry up! It’s 63 light years away!
The perfect way to say “I love you” to the raving psychopath in your life!
Exoplanet HD189733B (Catchy name, I know!)
This place eats the others for breakfast. Uranus and Neptune are super windy, but they’re just farting compared to this place. Winds reach speeds of 5400 miles per hour, or 8690 kph!! Oh my gosh! AND it rains glass!! Sideways!! If you’re still keen to visit, put your affairs in order and say goodbye to your loved ones, because that’s what extreme sports are all about!!
Places on this trip are going fast! Mind you, we have a slightly high turnover, so you don’t really have to wait too long for a seat. Call now.
If you love bone crushing science and mind splattering knowledge, subscribe to Time-X , I mean Ben’s Lab! Giving you the Universe in PLAIN HUMAN!”
What do you think? Suggestions and comments below! Until then,