01/05/2015 12:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Supercritical Fluids: A New Direction To The Search For Extra-Terrestrials?


Being in a planet so abundant in water, oxygen and resources, it is hard to imagine that life could thrive in any situation but everything seems to be so perfectly balanced for the existence of life, perhaps that's why till now, the search for Extraterrestrial life has only been confined to planets with resources of air and water. Till now. As a recent study shows that planets don't necessarily need air and water to support life.

Supercritical Fluids. These are different substances with temperature and pressure both above their critical points, causing them to lose the distinction between gaseous and liquid phases. Thus, they can dissolve materials like a liquid, as well as effuse through solids like a gas.'s Charles Q. Choi, in his recent article, highlighted the works of American astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, who has made a compelling case as to how dry planets can sustain life, if they are abundant in Supercritical CO2.

CO2 has a critical atmospheric pressure about 73 times that of earth, and a critical temperature of 31 degrees in the Celcius Scale. Thus, if a planet has an average temperature and pressure gradient higher than these threshold limits, they may very well possess atmospheric Supercritical CO2. If Schulze-Makuch's theory is indeed credible, this would make a lot of yet uninhabitable planets, including Venus, potentially viable for the existence of ETs.

"I always have been interested in possibly exotic life and creative adaptations of organisms to extreme environments. Supercritical CO2 is often overlooked, so I felt that someone had to put together something on its biological potential." -Dirk Schulze-Makuch

So, what do you think? Does this give a new direction to the human search for ETs?

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Dirk Schulze-Makuch, 'Alien Life May Thrive on an Exotic Kind of Carbon Dioxide,' Air&Space Smithsonian