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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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Genesis Vision
Learning Planet
Organic Universe
Earth Life Emerge
Genesis Future
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III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet Incubator Lifescape

H. Prolific ExoWorlds, Galactic Dynamics, Solar Orrerys, Habitable Zones, Biosignatures

Bell, James. The Search for Habitable Worlds: Planetary Exploration in the 21st Century. Daedulus. 141/3, 2012. In this issue on Science in the 21st Century, the Arizona State University professor of earth and space sciences describes these awesome vistas that have suddenly opened. Among the array of achievements and promising paths is the realization, indeed an epochal revolution, of a galaxy and cosmos found to be filled with solar systems and earth-like worlds. Another incentive is new evidence of expanded habitats for living organisms from crustal depths and celestial reaches, over temperature and environmental extremes. However then, in a “Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” could a common Earthwide project could be identified, recognized, and taken up by a personal planet just learning about its expectant cosmos?

The search for and detailed characterization of habitable environments on other worlds – places where liquid water, heat/energy sources, and biologically important organic molecules exist or could have once existed – is a major twenty-first-century goal for space exploration by NASA and other space agencies, motivated by intense public interest and highly ranked science objectives identified in recent National Academy decadal surveys. Through telescopic observations, terrestrial laboratory and field studies, and a “flyby, orbit, land, rove, and return” strategy for robotic exploration, particular emphasis will be placed on specific worlds already identified as potentially habitable: Mars, Jupiter's ocean moon Europa, and Saturn's icy and organic-bearing moons Titan and Enceladus. However, the potential abounds for surprising discoveries at many of our solar system's other planetary, satellite, and asteroidal destinations, as well as within newly discovered planetary systems around other stars. (Abstract, 8)

Planetary science is a relatively young, broadly interdisciplinary field that represents the merging of practices and practitioners from astronomy, physics, geology, geophysics, chemistry, geochemistry, atmospheric science, meteoritics, biology, mathematics, computer science, engineering, and other disciplines. (10) A prime and highly relevant example is the recent discovery in the terrestrial biology and paleontological communities of the phenomenal diversity of life on our own planet. (10) Thus, the newfound discovery of a much wider range of habitable environments on our own planet than had previously been thought has expanded the range of potentially habitable environments thought to exist (or to have existed) on other worlds. (11)

Benz, Willy, et al. Planet Population Synthesis. arXiv:1402.7086. A chapter to appear in Protostars and Planets VI (December 2014) by astronomers from Bern, Tokyo, Santa Cruz, CA, and Heidelberg. Our interest is to report growing perceptions, as this paper conveys, of a fertile universe filled with stochastic ovular worlds whereof those in conducive zones become habitable for life to evolve and emerge, as if some manner of cosmic selection.

With the increasing number of exoplanets discovered, statistical properties of the population as a whole become unique constraints on planet formation models provided a link between the description of the detailed processes playing a role in this formation and the observed population can be established. Planet population synthesis provides such a link. The approach allows to study how different physical models of individual processes (e.g., proto-planetary disc structure and evolution, planetesimal formation, gas accretion, migration, etc.) affect the overall properties of the population of emerging planets. The objective of this chapter is twofold: 1) provide an overview of the physics entering in the two main approaches to planet population synthesis and 2) present some of the results achieved as well as illustrate how it can be used to extract constraints on the models and to help interpret observations. (Abstract)

Beuther, Hennik, et al, eds. Protostars and Planets VI. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014. A huge volume of 38 chapters by 250 authors from a July 2013 conference held in Heidelberg, Germany. Four parts are Molecular Clouds and Star Formation, Disk Formation and Evolution, Planetary Systems – Search, Formation, Evolution, and Astrophysical Conditions for Life. Into the 2010s by way of sophisticated satellite and telescopes, along with computational analysis, the sapient noosphere of a conducive biosphere proceeds to quantify its temporal and spatial cosmic neighborhood. With respect to prior V (2007) and IV (2000) editions, a radival difference is a new universe filled with myriad, vicarious worlds and solar systems of every conceivable kind. In this vista, a composite Earthkinder begins to reconstruct how galaxies and stars evolve, and planets form by accretions from gaseous planetesimal embryos. Multiple author papers range from The Origin and Universality of the Stellar Initial Mass Function to Astrophysical Conditions for Planetary Habitability, each with hundreds of references.

Apropos, on February 26, 2015 I heard Andrey Kravtsov, a University of Chicago astronomer, speak at the UM, Amherst on Order Out of Chaos: Formation of Galaxies in a Hierarchical Universe. Nowadays the dynamics of galactic evolution are displayed by streaming video images, along with mathematical explanations of any depth. Does the universe want to learn this so as to gain its own vision and self-comprehension? The speaker and audience are as much an intended phenomenon of this cosmic panorama as the dancing galaxies and sunny stars.

Borucki, William. KEPLER Mission: Development and Overview. Reports on Progress in Physics. 79/3, 2016. The NASA Ames Research Center astronomer and administrator relishes the grand success of this planet finder satellite endeavor which he proposed and championed for over thirty years. The discovery of a new kind of a procreative cosmos with an innate propensity to sow and seed itself with myriad orbital spheres in solar habitable incubators is an epochal revolution which remains to be realized and appreciated.

The Kepler Mission is a space observatory launched in 2009 by NASA to monitor 170 000 stars over a period of four years to determine the frequency of Earth-size and larger planets in and near the habitable zone of Sun-like stars, the size and orbital distributions of these planets, and the types of stars they orbit. Kepler is the tenth in the series of NASA Discovery Program missions that are competitively-selected, PI-directed, medium-cost missions. The Mission concept and various instrument prototypes were developed at the Ames Research Center over a period of 18 years starting in 1983. Beginning in 1992 at the start of the NASA Discovery Program, the Kepler Mission concept was proposed five times before its acceptance for mission development in 2001.

Analysis of the data to date has detected over 4600 planetary candidates which include several hundred Earth-size planetary candidates, over a thousand confirmed planets, and Earth-size planets in the habitable zone (HZ). These discoveries provide the information required for estimates of the frequency of planets in our galaxy. The Mission results show that most stars have planets, many of these planets are similar in size to the Earth, and that systems with several planets are common. Although planets in the HZ are common, many are substantially larger than Earth. (Abstract)

The objectives of the Kepler Mission are largely achieved. Because of the large number of exoplanets discovered and characterized, useful estimates of the parent distributions have been derived. The results show that most stars have planets, many of these planets are Earth-size, and a significant fraction are in the HZ of the host stars. These results bring to fore, the question raised by the Fermi Paradox: Where is everybody? Why haven’t the SETI searches been successful? Results from future instruments that can determine the chemical composition of the atmospheres of Earth-size planets in the HZ could provide an important clue to answer these fundamental questions. (45)

Borucki, William, et al. Kepler-62: A Five-Planet System with Planets of 1.4 and 1.6 Earth Radii in the Habitable Zone. Science. Online April 18, 2013. With dozens of coauthors including Geoffrey Marcy, Natalie Batalha, Lisa Kaltenegger, Jack Lissauer, Debra Fischer, and David Charbonneau, a news report about the most earth-like extrasolar analog candidate found so far. A front page article in the New York Times for April 19, 2013 “Two Promising Places to Live, 1,200 Light-Years from Earth” by Dennis Overbye cites this as a major Kepler satellite achievement to validate a galaxy and cosmos filled with neighboring, potentially conducive bioworlds. As noted by Overbye, an earlier technical paper is “Kepler-22b: A 2.4 Earth-Radius Planet in the Habitable Zone of A Sun-Like Star,” William Borucki with over fifty coauthors, in The Astrophysical Journal (745/2, 2012).

We present the detection of five planets—Kepler-62b, c, d, e, and f—of size 1.31, 0.54, 1.95, 1.61 and 1.41 Earth radii (R⊕), orbiting a K2V star at periods of 5.7, 12.4, 18.2, 122.4, and 267.3 days, respectively. The outermost planets (Kepler-62e and -62f) are super-Earth-size (1.25 < planet radius ≤ 2.0 R⊕) planets in the habitable zone (HZ) of their host star, receiving 1.2 ± 0.2 and 0.41 ± 0.05 times the solar flux at Earth’s orbit (S☉). Theoretical models of Kepler-62e and -62f for a stellar age of ~7 Gyr suggest that both planets could be solid, either with a rocky composition or composed of mostly solid water in their bulk. (Science Abstract)

Previous claims of Goldilocks planets with “just so” orbits snuggled up to red dwarf stars much dimmer and cooler than the Sun have had uncertainties in the size and mass and even the existence of these worlds, said David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, an exoplanet hunter and member of the Kepler team. “This is the first planet that ticks both boxes,” Dr. Charbonneau said, speaking of the outermost planet, Kepler 62f. “It’s the right size and the right temperature.” Kepler 62f is 40 percent bigger than Earth and smack in the middle of the habitable zone, with a 267-day year. In an interview, Mr. Borucki called it the best planet Kepler has found. (NY Times)

Boss, Alan. The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets. New York: Basic Books, 2009. The Carnegie Institution of Washington astronomer has been a pioneer advocate for the presence and detection of celestial worlds and solar systems. Due in February, we quote from the publisher’s website.

We are nearing a turning point in our quest for life in the universe-we now have the capacity to detect Earth-like planets around other stars. But will we find any? In The Crowded Universe, renowned astronomer Alan Boss argues that based on what we already know about planetary systems, in the coming years we will find abundant Earths, including many that are indisputably alive. Life is not only possible elsewhere in the universe, Boss argues - it is common.

Boss, Alan. Universal Life: An Inside Look Behind the Race to Discover Life Beyond Earth. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. The Carnegie Institute for Science, Washington, DC astrophysicist and author is also chair of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Analysis Group. A veteran of individual and management contributions to national and worldwide exoplanet programs, this volume details the administrative machinations that went on so this endeavor to could find myriad exoworlds suggestive of a cosmic vitality. A special theme is the Kepler Space Telescope and what it took by its main advocate William Borucki to make it happen and succeed.

We now know that Earth-like planets are universal, and we expect that life will be just as universal, even if it is primarily microbial, as earth life was for most of its history. Considering the wide variety of exoplanets found to date, far beyond the imagination of the most fertile science fiction writers, we can only dream about the weird life forms that might inhabit these worlds and about how equally weird we would appear to them. (192)

Boyle, Rebecca. Astronomers Reimagine the Making of the Planets. Quanta. June 6, 2022. A science writer continues to survey our worldwise retrospective studies of how this Earth, our solar system, and orbital orrerys tend to array into myriad varieties. Her prior report was As Planet Discoveries Pile Up, a Gap Appears in the Pattern (May 16, 2019) which noted an absence in the galaxy of 1.5 to 2 times Earth size worlds. Three years and 5,000 total findings later, still “none that remotely resemble ours” was found She comments that Alessandro Morbidelli, a leading researcher, finds the situation quite curious. A prime reference is then Planet Formation Theory in the Era of ALMA and Kepler: From Pebbles to Exoplanets by Joanna Drazkowaka and nine coauthors including AM at arXiv:2203.09759 (see herein).

Burkhardt, Christoph. Planetary Genealogy. arXiv:2203.02203. A University of Munster researcher deftly employs this familial metaphor so to impart a deep sense of an astro-ancestry.

The detection of exoplanets and accretion disks around newborn stars has spawned novel models of how our Solar System formed and evolved. In regard, stable isotope anomalies in meteorites are now used as key tracers of material flow in the early Solar System which allows cosmochemists to establish a "planetary isotopic genealogy". This concept has advanced our understanding of Solar System evolution from the collapse of the Sun's parental molecular cloud. (Abstract excerpt)

Isotope anomalies are adding new vistas to the Solar System’s dynamical evolution from the molecular cloud to the formation of the terrestrial planets. As if genetic tracers, they reveal a bimodality among planetary bodies that dates back to the early infall stage. Many questions remain, but, planetary isotope genetics has the potential to bring meteoritics, astronomical observations, and modeling together towards a unified model for early Solar System evolution. (8)

Burrows, Adam and Geoffrey Marcy. Exoplanets. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111/12599, 2014. An introduction to authoritative papers as a current update upon this fledgling field dubbed Comparative Exoplanetology. The endeavor has seen two phases – Marcy and colleagues detection circa 1995 of another orbital world and the post 2009 Kepler satellite findings of a galaxy and cosmos filled with as many planets as stars. Articles such as The Future of Spectroscopic Life Detection on Exoplanets by Sara Seager, Exploring Exoplanet Populations with NASA’s Kepler Mission by Natalie Batalha, Structure of Exoplanets by David Spiegel, et al, Requirements and Limits for Life in the Context of Exoplanets by Chris McKay, and Remote Life-Detection Criteria, Habitable Zone Boundaries, and the Frequency of Earth-like Planets around M and Late K Stars by James Kasting, et al open vistas upon a revolutionary habitable universe. How incredible that our precious Earth by way of a late worldwide collaboration, sophisticated instrumentation, computer analysis, is now able to realize, explore, quantify, atmospheres, signs of life, stochastic frequencies, and so on. We have just begun to imagine an actual fecund ecosmos which by its own propensities seems to sow and seed itself with ovular worlds in solar incubators.

Cabrol, Nathalie. The Coevolution of Life and Environment on Mars. Astrobiolog. 18/1, 2018. The French-American, SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center, planetary scientist scopes out a research program which sets up a relative contrast between Earth and Mars with regard to early life stages, gain and loss of habitability, and geo-atmospheric conditions. Although one woman is doing this, the greater project is due altogether to a thinking planet as it just now proceeds to consider a neighbor world by way of similar temporal and spatial environments.

Cabrol, Nathalie. Using Machine Learning to Optimize the Search for Biosignatures. Nature Astronomy. 7/3, 2023. We cite this article by the senior French-American astrobiologist and director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute as such a far and wide celestial neighborhood census becomes facilitated by AI methods (see our EI section).

A probabilistic machine learning-based framework for recognizing and predicting microbial landscape patterns at nested spatial scales was developed. The approach substantially increased the probability of detecting biosignatures when tested at a Martian analogue in the high Andes. This search tool has applications for detecting biosignatures on terrestrial or icy planets.

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