NASA scientists discover that planets with oceans are widespread in the galaxy

Some years ago, Lynnae Quick, a planetary scientist started to speculate if any of them not less than 4,000 identified planets or exoplanets outside our solar system, could resemble some of the watered moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter. Although several of those moons do not have atmospheres and have ice cover, they still are among the top objectives in NASA’s exploration for life outside Earth, with good examples classified as ocean worlds being Enceladus moon of Saturn and Europa moon of Jupiter.

NASA planetary scientist, Quick, who focuses on ocean worlds and volcanism stated that water plumes erupt from Enceladus and Europa, so they could tell that the bodies have subsurface water bodies underneath their ice shells. They contain energy that constrains the plumes that are two necessities for life. Quick added that the thought of those places being probably habitable, perhaps their bigger versions in other planetary systems could be livable too.

Lynnae Quick opted to explore if there could be planets relatable to Enceladus and Europa in the Milky Way galaxy. The worlds could too be geographically active enough to fire plumes from their surfaces that could be detected by telescopes one day.

From a mathematical study of various dozen exoplanets, comprising of neighbour planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, Lynnae Quick together with her counterparts studied something important. Exceeding a quarter of the exoplanets, they researched on could be ocean worlds, with most of them harbouring oceans underneath ice surface layers, similar to those of Enceladus and Europa. Besides, most of these planets might be emitting more energy compared to Enceladus and Europa.

Scientists might one day be in a position to examine the predictions of Quick by gauging the heat released from exoplanets or by noticing a cryovolcanic or volcanic explosion in the wavelengths of light released by molecules in the atmosphere of a planet. Currently, scientists cannot see most exoplanets in any aspect. 

While the supposition that goes into the mathematical replicas are educated guesswork, they could be of help to scientists in narrowing the register of promising exoplanets to look for conditions good for life.  The impending James Webb Space Telescope of NASA or other space operations could pursue.

Aki Roberge, who is a NASA Goddard astrophysicist and having worked together with Quick on the analysis, stated that future operations to search for life outside our solar system are centred on planets such as Earth since it has a biosphere. The biosphere is so plentiful that it is altering the chemistry of the entire atmosphere.