2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

Experimental Modeling of Biotic Energy Transport on Tidally Locked Planets


Michael M. Gill*, Elsa Palumbo, and Payton M. Sullivan
Dr. Vayujeet Gokhale and Dr. Carolina Sempertegui, Faculty Mentors

Planets orbiting M-dwarfs are often considered promising astrobiological targets, in part because of their host stars' relative abundance and long lifespan. However, the vast majority of such planets are tidally locked, which may lead to the habitability-threatening process of water trapping. Previous work (eg. Yang et al.) has examined abiotic energy transport mechanisms (e.g. ocean currents) that can prevent water trapping under certain circumstances. We, however, influenced by the Gaia hypothesis and Lovelock's Daisyworld, predict that life itself can play a role in reducing the temperature discrepancy between the planet's “night” and “day” sides. To test this hypothesis, we have created a soil model that aims to approximate the temperature gradient of a tidally locked planet. By seeding microbial life in the “twilight zone” and monitoring how the soil's temperature gradient changes over time, we hope to refine our experimental setup and to provide a foundation for future work.

Keywords: Astrobiology, M-Dwarf, Soil Bacteria, Habitable Zone, Daisyworld, Twilight Zone, Modification, Environment

Topic(s):Biology
Astronomy
Physics

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 10-1
Location: SUB GEO
Time: 3:00

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