Biodiversity on Alien Planets May Outshine Earth’s

The artist's concept depicts Kepler-62f, a super-Earth exoplanet in the habitable zone of a star smaller and cooler than the sun, located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. (Image: © NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

Biodiversity on Some Alien Planets May Dwarf That of Earth

by Mark Wall

Earth’s dazzling biodiversity may not be so remarkable in the cosmic scheme of things, a new study suggests.

Alien planets with more favorable ocean-circulation patterns might support life in even greater abundance and variety than our own world does, the study determined.

“Life in Earth’s oceans depends on upwelling (upward flow), which returns nutrients from the dark depths of the ocean to the sunlit portions of the ocean where photosynthetic life lives,” study leader Stephanie Olson, of the University of Chicago, said in a statement.

“More upwelling means more nutrient resupply, which means more biological activity,” added Olson, who presented the new research today (Aug. 22) at the Goldschmidt Conference in Barcelona, Spain. “These are the conditions we need to look for on exoplanets.”

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