A Dynamic Scheme to Assess Habitability of Exoplanets

  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
  • Abel Méndez
  • Alberto G. Fairén
  • Philip von Paris
  • Carol Turse
  • Grayson Boyer
  • Alfonso F. Davila
  • Marina Resendes de Sousa António
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 24)


In the next few years, the number of catalogued exoplanets will be counted in the thousands and with it the need will arise to prioritize them in regard to habitability and the potential presence of life. Here, we suggest a first attempt of a dynamic scheme for classification based on our current understanding of parameters that are consistent and beneficial for the presence of life. These parameters include the presence of (1) a terrestrial planet or moon, which (2) is endowed with a significant atmosphere; the presence of (3) a magnetic field enveloping the exoplanet; (4) internal differentiation and plate tectonics; (5) detectable surface liquids, preferably water, on the surface of the planetary body; and (6) the detection of geoindicators; and (7) bioindicators. We propose to calculate a habitability index (HI) based on these parameters, but realize the assumptions that go into this value and the very bias introduced by the limitations of the detection methods. However, in order to account for the assumptions and limitations of this method, the HI index is an open scheme that can be updated as technology and our knowledge about habitable planets advances.


Plate Tectonic Terrestrial Planet Dynamic Scheme Habitable Zone Extrasolar Planet 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
    • 1
  • Abel Méndez
    • 2
  • Alberto G. Fairén
    • 3
  • Philip von Paris
    • 4
  • Carol Turse
    • 1
  • Grayson Boyer
    • 5
  • Alfonso F. Davila
    • 3
  • Marina Resendes de Sousa António
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.Planetary Habitability LaboratoryUniversity of Puerto Rico at AreciboAreciboUSA
  3. 3.NASA SETI Institute – NASA Ames Research CenterMoffett FieldUSA
  4. 4.Institut für PlanetenforschungDeutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)BerlinGermany
  5. 5.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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