5 Star Wars / Exoplanet Climate Connections You May Have Missed

This year I studied climate with a professor who liked to use examples from exoplanets to help students learn key concepts in climate science. Star Wars introduces over 750 planets several of which we know the climates of. What are the top five climate connections you may have missed?  Read on to find out.

  1. Planets with oxygen-filled atmospheres and life possess a variety of climate zones and would not be all swamp or desert as Dagobah and Tatooine.  See “Hey, What’s Up With The Planets In Star Wars?” by Leslie Pitt for analysis from volcanologist Dr. Andrews and astrophysicist Dr. Carpineti.
  2. Dr. Andrews and Dr. Carpineti discuss how it would be unrealistic for a life-supporting planet’s surface to be all desert or all swamp, but Climate Central points out that an all ice-covered planet can exist. See Climate Central‘s take in “The Star Wars Universe & Planetary Climates.”
  3. A planet’s atmosphere is responsible for whether it has colourful sunsets. The colourful sunsets we’re used to on Earth arise from light scattered by the particles that make up the atmosphere. NASA scientists ponder what sunset on a Star Wars universe planet could look like in “Are Star Wars-like planets really out there?
  4. It’s hard to say how water would remain available to support life on a desert planet, but astrophysicist Dr. Greg Laughlin believes a planet like Tatooine would be more resilient to climate change than an ocean planet like Earth because its water-free surface would not be as good at trapping incoming solar radiation as our planet is. See more in Wired‘s “Could the Planets in Star Wars Actually Support Life?
  5. Molecular biologist Dr. David Ng has painstakingly crafted a “Tatooine Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (IPCC) report, in part as a pedagogical tool, but also to help inspire us all to pay attention to IPCC reports about our own planet.  When’s the last time you had a look at the latest on our changing climate?

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