Participants start by first observing a standard earth simulation. After this we have four astronomer-curated simulations imagining what earth would be like with altered conditions, including:
So far we have three simulations of exoplanets with some rather extreme conditions. We’re looking forward to adding more as users contribute their ideas.
Kepler – Kepler 186f orbits a red dwarf star 500 light-years away from Earth. Much is still unknown about this planet other than it is similar to Earth in size and mass and that it is close enough to the star that liquid water could be present. Our world shows what Kepler might look like if it has water and plant life. More from the NASA simulation site.
Trappist – TRAPPIST-1e is one of seven Earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. About 40 light-years from Earth, TRAPPIST-1 is unusual both for its number of small rocky planets and the number in the habitable zone. Our simulated world has a narrow band of water near the terminator, the divide between a hot, dry day and an ice-covered night side. See this system and more at NASA’s website.
Gliese – It’s hard to identify exoplanets! This one may not even exist, but some have theorized it could be covered in deep ocean. Our simulation has ice that’s on fire! Find out more on the process of identifying and qualifying this exoplanet on Wikipedia.
Cancri – According to Nasa’s website, 55 Cancri e is a super Earth exoplanet that orbits a G-type star. Its mass is 8.08 Earths, it takes 0.7 days to complete one orbit of its star, and is 0.01544 AU from its star. Its discovery was announced in 2004. The surface is always covered in lava, even on the dark side! You can see a pretty neat 3D version on NASA’s website too.
Brown Dwarf – CWW 89Ab is an astronomical body that needs some confirmation. It is believed to be a brown dwarf, also called “failed stars”, but to be certain we have to test the carbon to oxygen ration in its atmosphere. If the ratio is similar to that of the star it orbits, we know it’s a brown dwarf. If it’s not, we can classify it as a gas giant planet like Jupiter. More information here.
There are some pretty neat planets and moons nearby us already, however, and we’re working on adding local planets to explore too.
We’ve been lucky enough to feature the work of Diego García (Sr_Mustard) and Christopher Slayton (ChrisDaCow) to offer learners the opportunity to visit several tremendously large simulations of stellar bodies.