|Sunset as seen on Mars through its thin atmosphere.|
The Earth’s liquid iron core generates a magnetic field which also protects us. This magnetosphere deflects solar winds that would otherwise strip us of our atmosphere. Mars, being much smaller than Earth, lost its magnetic field when its iron core cooled and as a result lost most of its atmosphere as well.Yet having an atmosphere does not a guarantee life either. Take Venus for example. Its atmosphere is the product of a runaway greenhouse effect. Its ocean’s boiled away from the heat and volcanic activity has left it an atmosphere that is mostly carbon dioxide. As a result, the planet that most closely resembles Earth is so hot that lead would melt on its surface.
Goldilocks planets are of key interest to researchers looking for intelligent life or for a future home for the human race. Finding Goldilocks planets is an important part of the Kepler Mission (more here), which uses a space telescope to survey and compile the characteristics of such planets.
1) True or false: Mars is a Goldilocks planet.
2) Which of following is not true about our atmosphere?
a) without it, we could not have liquid water b) it protects us from ultraviolet radiation c) it deflects solar winds d) it protects us from meteorites
3) True or false: having an atmosphere guarantees that a planet can have liquid water.
4) Venus has an atmosphere that is mostly ______________.
a) nitrogen b) carbon dioxide c) argon d) sulfuric acid
5) Finding Goldilocks planets is the primary goal of the _____________.