We are lucky to have been born on a planet that is able to sustain human life. However, it took billions of years for life to be remotely possible at all here. Most of the things a planet needs to sustain life did not arrive until after the Earth was already billions of years old. Once it did, we even had mass extinctions as the Earth eventually became what we know it as today.
The question is, are there other planets that can sustain life at all, especially human life? So far we know that there are several habitable planets. In the Milky Way Galaxy alone, we have over 100 billion stars. Near most of those stars are planets, many of which would be considered habitable for life.
Some are gas planets like that of Jupiter and Neptune, so we assume life is not possible here. Yet there are others that fit most of the things we see on Earth today. However, there is an issue in all of this. Just because a planet is considered “habitable” does not mean it is possible for humans to live there. Venus is technically in the habitable zone, for example.
While the Milky Way has several places humans can one-day call home…it is uncertain if any can sustain human life. This leads many to ask an understandable question. That is, what are the things a planet needs to prove it can sustain human life?
To be honest, it’s quite a lot. Some of the things needed are well known while others are important yet people may not know much about them. We wanted to help everyone out by giving you 35 such things a planet needs to have in order to possibly be the next home for mankind.
It may seem like the most obvious thing one can possibly imagine. Yet a lot of the things we may discuss in this will be complicated and often rely on a star to even begin to work. A star of some type will offer heat and several other resources mankind will need to survive.
Without a star that will obviously be the sun to whatever planet we’re on, then life is simply not possible. Therefore, if we’re looking for things a planet needs to sustain human life, a star is one of the most important things among them.
When it comes to the sun, we need to be the right distance. Too close and we’ll overheat but too far and we’ll freeze. Therefore, we must be in a habitable zone for it to even be possible for humans to stay on this planet for an extended period of time.
Ultimately, we need to be in what is known as the “Goldilocks Zone.” This is an area where it is neither too cold or too hot. This may differ distance-wise from planet to planet. For example, if the planet is larger, then the distance a habitable planet may change.
It is clear that we also need to revolve around the sun. For the Earth, we rotate around the sun in our daily pattern. This happens every 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds. We round up to a 24 hour day, of course.
We also move around 60,000 MPH around the sun too. However, the days on another planet may not operate the same way. This is okay as it won’t hurt human life to have longer or shorter days depending on the needs of the planet we’re on. The planet still needs to revolve around the sun regardless.
If some stars are too close, there could be an issue. While the Star Wars two sun thing may seem fun, it would basically be impossible for humans to live on a planet like that. If we are in the habitable zone and stars are close to each other, even if that is millions of miles away, the heat would be intense.
It looks pretty in movies to see several suns. Yet it would be constant light and/or constant heat. This is simply not tolerable. On top of this, if stars are too close, there could be a severe reaction if they ever do get closer. Gravity also plays a large role here.
One of the big things a planet needs to sustain human life is a proper gravity. The lesser gravity we have, the lighter things are. Too much gravity and we’re barely able to walk in comparison to how we do now. Both affect our future offspring. The more gravity, the shorter they will be while a lesser gravity number will result in them being taller.
However, lesser gravity will cause humans to build less muscle mass while moving quicker yet more gravity will allow people to grow stronger but move slower. Ultimately, we just need a proper gravity number. The Earth’s average gravity number is 9.807 m/s², so any number near this average would be great.
One of the most common issues when searching for a habitable planet is finding one made of rock. What we mean by this is that a planet’s main make-up is rock-based like that of Earth. While we may have a lot of things within this, rock overall is always at the bottom of it.
This is different than that of gas planets like Jupiter and Neptune. These places are not possibly habitable for human life, and we’re unsure any life can live on these planets either. We do know we can never really live here, so these places are off-limits to consider.
We cannot call a planet habitable if it does not have a proper atmosphere, it is truly among the big things a planet needs for us to live there. Our moon, for example, does not have an atmosphere at all and is, therefore, unable to sustain human life.
Meanwhile, a planet like Mars does have an atmosphere but it’s too thin and allows a lot of crucial things for human life to escape it. This means we cannot live on Mars currently either. Yet Earth does have an atmosphere and is, therefore, possible to sustain human life. It’s all about the atmosphere.
While having a larger mass seems obvious for a planet all of human life will need to move to, it’s much bigger than this. A small mass may not have much room but there is more to it. We know today that the smaller planets tend to have a lower gravity number.
Gravity is important to not only those living on the planet but also the gravity the planet has overall. Smaller planets can be taken out of its orbit at times due to lower gravity. This can alter all life on the planet. These planets can also have issues with rotation and axis control among several other problems.
While the Earth rotates on a regular basis, this happens on an axis. This is obviously a good thing for a load of reasons. You want the planet to spin on an Axis to allow the planet to completely get needed heat from the sun.
If it just revolves around the sun, then one side of the Earth will be in total light and heat while the other is in total darkness and cold. This would cause several problems. An axis also helps the climate and weather of the planet. It even allows the Earth to go into seasons.
Speaking of seasons, the Earth’s Summer, Spring, Fall/Autumn, and Winter are crucial. Why are seasons important? First and foremost, seasons help with changes in things like plants and animals, like triggering needed things like photosynthesis among other things. For us, if it was bitterly cold or incredibly hot in certain places then humans would not live there
This creates a problem with space for humans, plants, and animals to be present. It also hurts the existence of animals because even if we kept the ones we needed for food in captivity, things like breeding are predicated on season change for many. Agriculture can only survive in certain temps too, meaning a lot of the things we grow now would be impossible without ever-changing seasons.
Seasons are important but they can still change and not have an impact on complete temperature changes like what we see on Earth. Temperatures need to be considered because none of those things matter if this isn’t factored in. For example, Venus happens to be within the habitable zone. Mars technically is too.
Yet Earth is the only planet among these that humans can live on. Venus is too hot while Mars is too cold. Both have loads of other issues that don’t make them truly habitable for human life, but their brutal temperatures are among the major reasons. The biggest temperature rates a human can exist in is a high of 248 degrees and a low of -108 degrees Fahrenheit, both only being for short times. If a new planet is not much lower or higher than this for heat and cold respectively, we cannot live there.
24. We Must Be Aware Of The Sun’s Age, As Well As Our Neighbors
When looking for a new planet, we must consider a lot of things. However, one thing may be forgotten about in our haste to find a perfect planet. That is often the age of the star that is going to be our new sun. If it’s quite old or near dying levels, this is not good for us. First, because it’s not going to be around a long time and will one day die.
Second, a big supernova could be possible. But the biggest issue is that some stars may be close to this planet we now call home. Even if our star is fine but there are others close to us that are reaching supernova levels, we have a problem. The safest distance from any supernova is 50 to 100 lightyears. 1 lightyear equals 6 trillion miles. You do the math on how far one needs to be from a supernova. This is further than the distance our Sun is to Pluto!
Many people know that the Earth’s moon affects things like our ocean’s tides. However, the way it manages to do this is through its own gravity. It pulls on the Earth, resulting in the oceans having tides. The side closest to the ocean may experience the most tides too. This gravity plays another critical role for us.
This pulling gravity of the Moon helps us remain in our rotation and on the axis. We’d actually tilt too far without the moon pulling on us. Therefore, in order for things to be possible as mentioned earlier, we’d need our new planet to have one or more moons depending on the size of the planet.
Very little is made about Earth’s core, but it plays a big role in our lives. The core helps with a lot, some of which we’ll actually be going over in other examples of the things a planet needs to sustain human life. However, the biggest thing about the core is that it helps to give us a lot of the metals we have that are pretty crucial.
Things like Iron are involved in this, which humans actually need in their lives. On top of this, the core is responsible for plate tectonics and magnetism, both of which play a huge role. The core is comprised of things like iron and nickel as well as things like gold, platinum, and uranium. All of which can be quite important to the overall planet itself. Thus, we need something like this wherever we end up.
We may not exactly need the ozone Earth has on a planet we go to, but we need something that can do similar things to it. Ozone itself is a gas that can be considered toxic but has powerful oxidizing properties. Earth’s Ozone Layer plays a critical role in our lives.
We have it in our stratosphere, where it shields us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This allows us to not burn up literally as we go outside. Essentially, it keeps the Earth from overheating. This is why the ozone layer is so often brought up in climate debates. We obviously need something like this on our new planet too.
Oxygen obviously allows humans to breathe, so we do need it. We also need proper oxygen levels so that we can actually breathe it in. However, we may not completely need a massive amount of oxygen on this new planet as it can be created too. If a planet has something known as cyanobacteria, this is a good thing too.
These help to produce oxygen and were among the first things that Earth used to make the oxygen it needed. While the overall number would be too high if a planet had a lot of this around, it could be useful to the long-term health of the planet and humans alike to have them. You often see cyanobacteria described as blue-green algae, which allows us to find it easier.
For those unaware, carbon dioxide is quite a useful thing on this planet. As much bad as it’s connected to, a lot of good comes from it as well. We may not need carbon dioxide exactly as our Earth uses it, but we need something equivalent to it on the new planet.
Photosynthesis is critical to the lives of animals and humans alike. This is due to plants absorbing it and releasing oxygen, obviously critical to our lives. The problem for the Earth today, however, is too much CO2. While we do need a good bit of it, the number today is leading to a global warming effect, according to every credible environmental scientist on Earth today.
We know, one of the things a planet needs to have is methane? Isn’t it a problem on Earth today? This is true. However, despite critically high methane emissions today in our environment, we actually do need some methane in our environment too. For those unaware, methane’s main job is to help us not freeze to death.
Seriously, it develops naturally and results in the Earth not cooling down too much for life to remain, well, living. It is one of the most critical greenhouse gases we have. The problem today is that around 60% of methane is caused by humans, meaning the natural is meeting man’s contribution. This is why the number is so high. This can be prevented on our new planet.
Let’s face it, we cannot hope to head to a planet with our own supply of things fuel and pretend it’ll work long-term. We need some naturally developing things present to help us out. We do not want to burden our new planet with the same issues we’re leaving Earth for, but we do need to get around. The question is, how?
We can use solar-powered products but we also need to know how our new sun will work as well as the hours in the day, and much more. To have something possible for fueling within our new environment could be critical. Does this mean we need to look for this planet’s version of oil and eventually fade away from that? Perhaps what gas we create from this oil won’t be as problematic, who knows?
Nitrogen is a pretty important part of our daily lives often overlooked. We often think of it as that thing used to make things blow up. Nitro is used for such things but it’s also used for a lot of other stuff too. We use it for creating ammonia, a critical thing we use in things like fertilizer. Nitro is often used to help with cooling too.
It’s also used to make dyes as well as nylon, the latter of which can be useful in clothing. We even use it in liquid form within multiple different medications. Some of which help with cancer, heart conditions, and much more. Our environment is made up of a lot of Nitro too. In fact, we breathe in exactly 78.8% Nitrogen with every breath we take. Thus, we need it around.
One of the things a planet needs to be possible for human life is creatures we can both tame and as well as eat. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, meat is a high source of food in human beings that many truly need. It helps with energy, brain function, and much more.
Our new planet needs to have a supply of animal life or be possible for our Earthly animals to live there. Animals also supply other food sources beyond meat. We get things like milk and eggs from animals we’ve been able to domesticate alone. Some even help with manual labor, like horses and oxen. Thus, their role in our lives is critical.
While we could bring our own plants to have on our new planet, it is pretty clear that a planet should have its own plants too. If it doesn’t, that should be considered eye-opening. One of the things a planet needs for humans to even be close to coming there for a long-term stay is the ability to at least grow plants.
Even if the planet does not have its own for some reason, as long as growth is possible, we’re good. We can always supply the planet with plants. These can be useful food resources for us but also the animals we might need to bring with us or hope will already be present.
We needed to make sure we mentioned something like this due to how important it is for the planet we’re headed to. Plants are a major part of how we manage to exist on Earth. Therefore, one of the biggest things a planet needs to sustain human life is the ability to have plants and especially trees. The reason for this is really due to the Carbon Dioxide factor.
Remember, CO2 is absorbed by plants. If a planet we head to has trees like our own, they will be able to at least absorb major amounts of CO2. This will be useful as we get started in our new home. Trees are proven absorbers of CO2 and therefore we need them among other plants to grow. Perhaps this planet’s trees may do even more than our own.
One of the things that comes up time and time again is the issue of radiation on a new planet. We cannot know how much radiation a planet has without sending something there to either test the environment for it or bring something back for us to do it here.
This can be an issue, as high radiation levels will kill human life quickly while any radiation can be an issue to be exposed to long-term. We can thank the brilliant Marie Curie for our knowledge of radiation, the very thing that ended up resulting in her early passing. We’re smart enough to know not to go to a place that has tons of radiations as a result of her work.
One of the things a planet needs to work for humans may not technically be a certain “thing” but rather, something that won’t be present. We’re thinking something like chemical problems here. For example, if we decide to bring out a gas-powered vehicle to travel around the planet in, will it randomly blow-up once started?
Are the same laws of physics and chemical properties in play here mostly as they are on Earth? We know how things operate from a scientific standpoint here. Yet on other planets, the same things may be far different. If the moment we land, everything becomes impossible to understand or takes a long time, it could cause issues with colonizing.
10. Must Not Be Too Close To Other Planets Or Moons
While we feel a moon or two will be needed for the planet we call home, they shouldn’t get too close. If they do, it could cause more gravitational changes that our new planet does not need. However, this could be even worse if our neighbor planets are too close. Especially those at or near the same size as the one we’re going to be living on.
Our planet was formed by various asteroids and planets crashing into it. We even had a second moon but it eventually was pulled in by the Earth to give us the planet we have now. This possible crashing is something we do not want to be around to experience. On top of this, the closer these planets and moons are, the more likely they are to get in the way of the sun. Which isn’t good either.
While we will speak to one another, it is clear the preferred way of communication is often via text, phone, or some possible internet source. Especially when separated over long distances. Our new planet will not have this right off, meaning we’ll need to put a satellite into space to manage this. If we are to do this, things do not need to get in the way.
A planet with higher gravity may make it harder to put a satellite into space that won’t be sucked in. Perhaps we’ll use radio waves to communicate. If something like extreme amounts of copper is present that’ll block these waves from getting out, that isn’t cool either. This will be useful for long-term survival, so it is clearly among the big things a planet needs for human life.
It’s crazy we went so long without mentioning a crucial thing every planet needs to sustain human life. A magnetic field may be one of the biggest things needed because of what all it does to help. For example, the biggest thing it does is prevent solar flares from hitting the Earth as well as the sun burning up the atmosphere overall.
Mars does not have a global magnetic field like we do, which is why it has such a thin atmosphere. This prevents humans from living there without spacesuits. While our new planet may not need a magnetic field as extremely huge as the Earth’s, it will need to be sizable enough to protect the planet from its sun.
7. Supplies For Habitat Creation And Sustainability
Currently, 3D machines are showing how they can make pretty much anything we need or want. However, the only way 3D machines can do their job is by having a supply of a product or substance that it can form something out of. The machine cannot just make something out of nothing.
Our technology can be present, but we need our new planet to have something for us to use. If we don’t have them, either our technology needs to get more advanced or we won’t be able to call the planet home. We’ll have too many needs in the short and long-term to not have anything to use.
It is really not thought about but being able to store something might be something to consider. Let us explain. You know how you can store things like oil, right? What if you couldn’t? In fact, what if everything you have to store such as things like gases and liquids just won’t work on this new planet?
How can you ever make anything without it causing you a problem? How can you store something to use it for energy? If a planet is literally fighting you the entire way, is it really worth investing your time and effort to live there?
On Planet Earth, everything at one point in time that lives today evolved from something. This adaptation is crucial. It’s part of Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” concept. It means that if someone or something that not adapt to keep up with the changes in life, it will die off quickly.
If our new planet shows no signs of being at least capable of evolving, this is bad. Once humans come to the planet, evolving will be needed in order to adapt to the planet we are creating. The adaption won’t really be an issue for us as humans, yet we need to know current life on the planet can too.
Humans need nutrients to survive, which is something our new planet needs to be capable of providing. Nutrients are compounds you’ll find in foods that provide us with energy, the ability to heal, and even regulate chemical processes within our bodies.
They need to provide things like protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. All of which are crucial for our long-term survival. These are normally found in various plants and animals on Earth. However, if the animals and plants on this new planet do not provide these things, that could be bad news for us.
We think about this all the time nowadays. Before we travel somewhere out of town, we check the weather to see what we need to pack. In fact, we check it possibly weeks to months in advance of going. Then we check it again sometimes an hour before we leave.
If the weather on this planet is hard for humans to survive, such as having things like acidic rain that could melt our skin, that isn’t good for us. If the place has constant 200MPH winds or anything like these examples, we need to consider finding another place to call home.
This should be a pretty easy one for scientists. Has this planet been tested? We mean, has it gone through millions of years of change where life is still capable of existing on it? Has it faced any problems and managed to last?
It is clear that one of the things a planet needs for us to even consider them as a new home is proof of its merit. If we’re looking at a newer planet, it may be considered good to go to for our long-term future. Yet it won’t be good for several generations untested.
To some, this should have been the first thing on our list. However, you’ll forgive us if we felt it needed to be number one. In order for human life to be possible, liquid water is needed.
This means we do not need planets made of complete ice nor do we need to go to incredibly dry places. We need water we can drink and use long-term. While it does not have to be capable of drinking right out of the ground, it still needs to eventually be possible of drinking without bad bacteria in it.
Sources:[Science Daily, Live Science Discovery Communications, The Atlantic, Gizmodo, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Earthsky.org, AstroSociety.org, Phys.org, Northwestern University, NASA]