Goldilocks in Space

Baby Bear watches Goldilocks sleepHow is finding a habitable planet like the story of Goldilocks? If a planet is not too cold or not too hot, but it is just the right temperature to have liquid water, then there can be life. If a planet is too small, it does not have enough gravity to hold an atmosphere. If it is too large, it holds too much atmosphere. If it is just the right size, it can have an atmosphere capable of supporting life.

“Goldilocks” refers to an exoplanet whose conditions are “just right” to maintain water and support Earth-like life. The Goldilocks zone is the range of orbits around any star where is the conditions are neither too hot nor too cold but just right for liquid water to exist on the surface. And that is the key ingredient for the existence of life.

NASA’s Kepler mission is looking to find terrestrial planets that are in the Goldilocks zone of their stars where liquid water and possibly life might exist. In the Habitable Planets activity, your students determine the size of a planet as well as the distance from its star. Students learn what makes a planet habitable.

Read more about the description of the activity in NEON.  Register, log in, join the NASA Explorer Schools group and find Fingerprints of Life? Extremophiles: Its Just Right. The Habitable Planets activity is available in that forum.

Click here for more information about the Goldilocks zone.