Download [Magazine] Scientific American. Vol. 274. No 4 PDF

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Water. But gravity depends on the size and density of the body: because the moon is smaller and less dense than Earth, its pull of gravity is much weaker. Any water or layers of atmosphere that might develop on or around such a body would quickly be lost to space. Conversely, a very large planet, which has a strong pull of gravity, will attract gases from space. Scientists believe that Jupiter developed this way, gradually accumulating a huge outer shell of hydrogen and helium. Life as we know it seems unlikely to exist on massive gaseous planets like Jupiter.

At the end of this long road lay the Copyright 1996 Scientific American, Inc. primitive phagocyte: a cell efficiently organized to feed on bacteria, a mighty hunter no longer condemned to reside inside its food supply but free to roam the world and pursue its prey actively, a cell ready, when the time came, to become the host of endosymbionts. Such cells, which still lacked mitochondria and some other key organelles characteristic of modern eukaryotes, would be expected to have invaded many niches and filled them with variously adapted progeny.

Even Antarctica is not nearly cold enough to enable us to pick out such a faint image: the telescope must be cooled to at least minus 225 degrees Celsius (about 50 kelvins). More troublesome, radiation passing through Earth’s atmosphere is imprinted with exactly the features of ozone, carbon dioxide and water we hope to find on another planet. Obviously, we reasoned, we must move the telescope into space. Even then, to distinguish a planet’s radiation from that of its star, a traditional telescope would have to be much larger than any ground-based or orbiting telescope built to date.

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