back to article Aliens more likely to live on moons than planets, say boffins

Noted US boffins have stated that habitable conditions in far-flung star systems may be more commonly found on moons in orbit around planets than on the planets themselves. This of course suggests that space travel may be very common elsewhere in the galaxy, among aliens who are not unfortunate enough - like the human race - to …


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  1. Jerome 0

    Ultimate goal?

    "We should certainly keep them in mind as we work toward the ultimate goal of finding alien life."

    Who says that's the ultimate goal? Surely the ultimate goal must be to find extra-terrestrial life, then to find some way of exploiting it to create shareholder value.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Raging Machine Aliens vs Tailored Crash Dummies

      "Who says that's the ultimate goal? Surely the ultimate goal must be to find extra-terrestrial life, then to find some way of exploiting it to create shareholder value." .... Jerome 0 Posted Monday 21st December 2009 19:17 GMT

      Crikey, Jerome 0, that is, with a little applied imagination, an exact mirror/parallel of their probable thoughts should they ever find any free thinking life phormations on Earth.

      1. krmoss

        Step one: Supreme court "F" all religion

        Bring it on you old bastards.

    2. krmoss

      Inner Space and the souls that never die

      This goes on forever. As you learn to let your body die, you go more inward. This inward space is where I have been finding not only life but kindred spirits that passed this way before I arrived. I can explain it with music theory. I wish someone could help me with how a construct becomes a mathematical equation. krmoss

    3. krmoss


      Imagine your absence from this whole trip. That is the only real "Alien". I can and do believe in everything,

      except a poly verse without "me". You are the only god that will ever exist in all infinity.

    4. krmoss

      Duality will kill you into being born again

      Left and right, you and me, up and down, us and them, UNTIL life and getting dead...then BORN

      You can't stop the binary nature of this. All we have left is analog and satan.

  2. The Indomitable Gall

    Evenly distributed sunlight and heat

    "Though tidally locked with respect to the gas-planet, the moons would rotate with respect to the local sun, so getting evenly-distributed sunlight and heat."

    Are they perhaps forgetting about that nasty little spell when the entire moon is eclipsed by the planet? Taking the major moons of Jupiter as our model, we have periods of:

    Io: 1.77 Earth days

    Europa: 3.55 Earth days

    Ganymede: 7.16 Earth days

    Callisto: 16.7 Earth days

    We're talking of a planetwide total blackout of somewhere between half an Earth day and about 4 Earth days.

    Now consider the local cooling that occurs locally when half the Earth is in darkness and imagine what 4 days of a global lack of sunlight would be like. Even the hottest summer days would suffer nights on an arctic scale.

  3. Doug Glass

    The Alien Perspective

    And I suppose the alien civilization's boffins claim more than likely we live on our moon.

  4. Joe User

    Habitable moons in "Star Wars"

    How about Yavin 4, the jungle moon orbiting the gas giant Yavin in the first "Star Wars" movie?

    1. David Stever
      Thumb Up

      Other worlds, other moons

      I own the cover art of Poul Anderson's THE LONGEST VOYAGE, where a human civilization is coming up on the moon of a gas giant, when a voyage of exploration stumbles across a crashed spaceship.

      The cover really gives you a taste of what the sky would look like on such a body in space. Thanks to John Schoenherr for painting such a beautiful thing, 50 years ago.

  5. OldDogNewWalk

    Yes, but.....

    As long as we lock ourself into the belief that our gravity/oxygen/temperature/etc is the only way that life could reasonably exist we severely limit our chance of alien rapport.

    Think structure/methane/nitrogen/dontknowwhatitisen/etc and hug an alien.

    Mines the one with an xxxx in the pocket. Well - they might Bee gorgeous.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Obviously we are not alone.... :-)

    Lewis, With regard to the PDF ... "Characterizing Habitable Exo-Moons" .... I would just like to quote robert cooke, who posted Monday 21st December 2009 13:35 GMT, in "Data Robotics CEO change no big deal" ... .....


    Seriously dude, why?

  7. Glenn Amspaugh

    Have they checked...

    ...Yavin IV? Look in the temples.

  8. Scott Broukell


    IMHO we must remember that we are a very insignificant, tiny, itty bitty life form clinging to this wonderful life bearing crust and our own soil. Unfortunately we are able to be completely delusional about most things, (everything), especially our importance within the universe. I have no doubt life does exist in other places, but, the chances of two life forms, such as ours, co-existing within a proximity that would allow communication and travel, and both developing the required technologies for such activities, are sooooooooo tiny that I personally can't see it happening any time soon. IMHO life just twinkles on and off throughout the universe and all traces are extinguished before others can witness them.

    However, having said that, am beginning to think that a visit from some intelligent, rational, life form is rapidly becoming our last resort for salvation, given the state our delusional minds have taken us into. Let's just hope they find our ways quaint and want to keep us as pets (house trained ones at that!).

  9. Joe Zeff

    Tidally Locked? I think NOT.

    The planet Mercury is not tidally locked to the Sun and astronomers have known that for over twenty years. It rotates on its axis three times for every two orbits around the Sun. The reason it was thought to be locked is that it's only possible to see surface features from the Earth when the orbital geometry is Just Right, and because of the interaction of Mercury's orbit, Mercury's rotation and the Earth's orbit, Mercury's always got the same face pointing at us when we can get a good look. I'm not sure if this was discovered by space probes or by doppler radar, but I do know that it was learned between the time a short story by Larry Niven (The Coldest Place) was accepted for publication and the time the magazine hit the stands, making it obsolete before it was published.

  10. ThomasF
    Big Brother

    Aliens on the Moon - Location Location Location

    I am sure all this about Living on moons was discussed in Eisenhower’s 1954 meeting With the Extraterrestrials

    Like Russia flogging off far away Alaska - Which stopped Sarah Palin from running against Putin for Presidency.

    I am sure Ike said yes you Grey chappies we can sell you the Moon. Who wants to live on the Moon. "snigger snigger snortle" never mind who actually owns it.

    God knows what else of the Earth Solar System Family Silver he flogged off that day in 1954

  11. Marc 25

    i see his point but it doesn't really hold

    This articial really just doesn't hold any water at al,l other than mere hopeful speculation.

    The main (be all and end all) driving force in this universe is gravity. Of all of the laws of physics gravity is the one that makes this universe work and it controls every aspect of it.

    Without gravity this universe/galaxy/sun/planet/moon could not / would not exsist.

    All life forms (carbon based) build their structure based on the gravitational force put upon them.

    We have spines for very good reason. Our own bodies are build around a gravitational force of one G and our on travel to our planets relies heavy on our own ability to withstand the gravitational forces put upon us when we get there.

    These same rules would apply to ETs one would assume.

    Assuming that a planet such as jupiter-like sustains 5 or 6 moons. They will all be in different gravitational orbits and as such there will be different forces on the surface.

    ET could see those moons, send probes to them, but could not visit for fear of being crushed to death.

    In fact the human race is incrediably lucky to have a moon of our only to fuel our own space endevours.

    A good example would be put a human on jupiters surface (if there was on) would be a little bit pointless as the human would be a smoothy in seconds. Aslo if we visited Europa (widely thought to harbour the only chance of life in this solar system) again we'd be crushed by the gravitational forces put upon it by jupiter.

    The only way life could move from one moon to another would be if the two moons were in exactly the same orbit of the same planet thereby having the same gravitational forces. Highly unlikely but possible. Then however, the planet would be on the perceved "Dark Side" of the planet and Et wouldn't know it exsisted until they started ther eown space race.. ergo muting the point!

    1. Nur Ab Sal

      Too many assumptions.

      You're assuming a lot of things here.

      1) That gravity on other moons is always greater than on the alien 'home' moon.

      2) If the gravity of the alien moon is greater, you're assuming its far greater and enough to kill them.

      3) We have theories on how to simulate our own artificial gravity, why can't the aliens?

      4) Their bodies simply may not be the same as ours, who says they can't deal with small to medium changes in gravity?

      5) You note that europa is thought to harbour the best chance of life in our solar system, but there is also still strong evidence that mars may harbour life and we may have been accidently burning it. see this link...

  12. AlistairJ

    Seasons greetings

    I for one would welcome our new cheese-eating overlords

  13. Tom_

    @Marc 25

    "Aslo if we visited Europa (widely thought to harbour the only chance of life in this solar system) again we'd be crushed by the gravitational forces put upon it by jupiter."

    No offence intended, but you are a dunce.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    space boffins spend your own money

    This sort of speculation feeds the imagination and sells books and movie tickets.

    A bit of mature reasoning would indicate that planets further from the galaxy center would be older and so have more chance of advanced civilizations . They don't seem to drop in for a cup of tea wearing their 'star fleet' uniforms though do they?

    We will eventually spend billions to discover some moss underneath a rock on one of jupiters moons and claim it as a triumph ,while at the same time frenziedly spraying toxic weed killers on an rock of stone outside our front door.

    All funded by the generous and gullible tax payer of course.

  15. Marc 25


    @Nur Ab Sal, thanks for your comments. Your right i did make a few assumtions yes.

    Point 1 and 2:

    I made this assumtion based on the wildly varying sizes of moon orbiting our own gas giants.

    Because of the variation in sizes (thought to be dependant of the chemical conposistion of elemts during formation) gravity would also wildly vary.

    Point 3: Theories harbour yet more speculation and assumtions. TBH though, this has been in comic books since the fiffties. If it really was techincally possible we'd be throwning money at it not just for space exploration but for deep sea exploration too. I'm sure the oil companies would love it.

    Point 4: possible epscially if their home plant suffers regualr shifts in gravity...non circular orbits of the gas giant for example.

    Point 5: thanks for pointing this out to me, i hadn't seen this. However I was talking about developed/organised life. It's quite possible that europa could contain life very simlar to that found around hydrothermal vents in our own dep seas, underneath that crust of ice sheet. Thanks to the gravity forces of Jupiter the core of Europa is generating lots of heat which means volcanic activity.

    Mars is a good example of life on another planet but i meant "organised" life such as fish, clams, tube worms and crabs etc. If Mars does harbour life, sadly its like to be no more a few organised cells.

    @ Tom_ intelligent input!

    Care to quantify what exactly you mean by that or did you just prefer to flame?

    1. Stephen 27


      Marc, I do not believe Tom_ was flaming you, it was more an observation. Put simply, your logic is WAY OFF BASE!

      I'll pick one flaw in your post. Moons at different orbits around a gas giant do not experience significant differences in gravitational force other than tidal forces. The main gravitational force you will experience is the mass of the moon that you are standing on.

      So for example two identically sized moons orbiting a gas giant at different distances will feel pretty much the same to anyone walking on them.

      There are a whole lot more problems with your post, but because I live on the other side of the planet to you, I'm a lot closer to Christmas and don't feel like typing any more.

      Merry Christmas.

  16. Hugh Jorgen

    The true meaning of life.........

    Which moon does that green chick Kirk boned live on? She was hot, and pretty easy! We should be looking out for that moon, or at least spending some time in Newcastle if we can't find it. I, for one, would like to volunteer my services double bagging the female of whatever species after 8 beers and a kebab.

    Mine's the one with the relentless anal probe in the pocket....might want to stand back a bit!

  17. krmoss

    What if you were really it?

    There's nothing outside of you. The more inward you go the more you realize there is only one god, You. Cool! You really are it. Make up your bullshit theories and give them to your friends! Your friends are you as well but just "think" you all are separate, for real. You are even your Mother and Father. You decided what would go down during this incarnation. I can PROVE IT! krmoss

  18. krmoss

    If you are "I am" you are the only one!

    There is no one else here except "I". If you are "I" you are damn lucky. That means you are God

    forever. You got there (here) through the evolution you created! You wrote this program. You may not remember all the details but who would? You need to focus on EXACTLY what you feel is important right now! The rest you already wrote, fuck it. Guess what, I'm you too bitch! krmoss

  19. krmoss

    distant dogs bark

    They know if evil exists, I am evil. God please let Satan be. He is so cool. If you didn't want

    a binary code you should have left us with tapes of right wing self righteous assholes. The Dogs

    Bark at four in the fucking morning because dogs know I only believe in YOU. You, way out there,

    You're my God of choice. Please write my new program of choice without the restraints of pro tools

    or some other asshole. Thanks be to God, Not digi design! Satan, don't bullshit me! I have samplitude without the mic pres! I can buy a bitchin' pre on e bay. Get it right, "PRO TOOLS", cater to your customer! Right now, you fucking suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Proprietarryyyyy?????

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