Published: 6:48 AM 7/22/2014
A new study showed oceans are vital in detecting alien life on other planets and extra-terrestrial objects.
The research, published today in the journal Astrobiology, revealed how vital oceans are in regulating the climate on Earth-like planets, University of East Anglia reported.
Researchers created a computer-simulated pattern of circulating ocean air and how it would effect and Earth-like planet. They found the planet's rotation would significantly impact heat transport when the presence of the ocean was taken into account.
"The number of planets being discovered outside our solar system is rapidly increasing. This research will help answer whether or not these planets could sustain alien life," Professor David Stevens from UEA's school of Mathematics said.
"We know that many planets are completely uninhabitable because they are either too close or too far from their sun. A planet's habitable zone is based on its distance from the sun and temperatures at which it is possible for the planet to have liquid water."
Past habitability models have not looked at the impact oceans can have on the environment of alien planets. Oceans can cause planet surface temperatures to respond to seasonal changes and variations in solar temperatures. They also help regulate temperatures across the planet and keep them at levels tolerable for life.
The model found temperatures transported by oceans would create a higher chance of life existing on the object.
"Mars for example is in the sun's habitable zone, but it has no oceans - causing air temperatures to swing over a range of 100 [degrees Celsius]. Oceans help to make a planet's climate more stable so factoring them into climate models is vital for knowing whether the planet could develop and sustain life," Stevens said.
"This new model will help us to understand what the climates of other planets might be like with more accurate detail than ever before."