Exomoon Atmospheres

As astronomers continue to search for potentially habitable planets orbiting other stars, some have also started to consider the possibility of habitable moons orbiting giant planets in such systems. Such exomoons could be the size of Mars, Earth, or even a few times larger, based on observations of similar large moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn. A few scientific studies have demonstrated that exomoons should be expected in other planetary systems and could even be observable with the next generation of space telescopes.

I recently published a paper with co-author RenĂ© Heller in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society titled “Exploring exomoon atmospheres with an idealized general circulation model.” This study presents the first three-dimensional climate modeling of exomoon atmospheres. Exomoon atmospheres receive daily instellation from the host star of the planetary system, which would make them similar in climate to an Earth-like planet. But exomoons are also in synchronous rotation with the host giant planet (similar to the synchronous rotation of our moon around Earth). Exomoons therefore receive additional thermal energy at the top of their atmospheres from their host planet, in addition to the star. This configuration leads to a climate with warmer poles (a phenomenon known as “polar amplification”) and stronger dynamical energy transport.

Some exomoons atmospheres could enter a runaway greenhouse from the additional thermal energy of the host planet, but others should be able to maintain stable and potentially habitable atmospheres. Exomoons remain viable prospects in the search for life, and future astronomical surveys will gradually reveal the frequency of such worlds.

Now Curating Games on Steam

If you fancy yourself a gamer, then follow along with my reviews on Steam. As a lifelong video game enthusiast with roots in the NES era, I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in the vibrant community of modern indie gaming.

My reviews only feature games playable through Linux with full controller support. I focus primarily on games from small and independent developers in the role playing game, point-and-click, action-adventure, and puzzle-platformer genres. And with a bit of aesthetic discourse added into the mix, we get my aptly-named steam curator: Linux Gaming Philosophy.

Mysterytrain 2018 Schedule

We’re enjoying festival season this summer with plenty more to come in the fall. I’m really excited to have a new van for traveling to shows.

February 16-17 – The Pajama Jam (Tipton, PA)

April 13-14 – Willie’s Midnight Crazy Train (Lehighton, PA)

May 19-20 – Private Party (Chalfont, PA)

June 29-30 – Grateful Getdown III (Biglerville, PA)

July 28 – Pinnacle Jam (Strausstown, PA)

August 2-5 – 13th Annual Bears Picnic (Blain, PA)

August 24-25 – Festival in the Field (Millersburg, PA)

August 31-September 1 – Peace of Mind (Laurelton, PA)

October 18-20 – Panda Fam Fest (Forksville, PA)

November 24 – 10th Anniversary Show (Tipton, PA)

December 1 – All Night Show (Tipton, PA)

December 31 – New Year’s Eve (Tipton, PA)

We now offer online ticket sales on the Mysterytrain website. Contact us if you’re planning on going to some of these events, and plan on camping with us, too!

More on Mars Climate Cycles

Fluvial features on Mars seem to indicate that liquid water once flowed on the surface, yet climate theorists remain divided among how the red planet was able to sustain warm enough conditions in the distant past when the sun was fainter. Popular ideas include a dense greenhouse atmosphere of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and other gases permitted a lengthy period of warmth. Another option suggests that periodic impacts caused enough warming to carve the features in a shorter time.

My co-authors and I have argued in previous papers that climate cycles on early Mars could have been driven by oscillations in the carbonate-silicate cycle, which would have provided transient warming from the accumulation of greenhouse gases by volcanoes and subsequent loss by weathering. In a new paper, we respond to a critique of the limit cycle hypothesis in our “Reply to Shaw.”

We acknowledge that the biggest obstacle to any explanation for warming early Mars with carbon dioxide is their ultimate fate: are there carbonate rocks buried underneath the martian regolith? If not, where did all the carbon dioxide go? Even so, we maintain that the early Mars climate cycle hypothesis remains consistent with observable geologic evidence and could have played at least a partial role in providing warm conditions on early Mars.