Photosynthetic potential of planets in 3 : 2 spin-orbit resonances

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Astrobiology, 2014, 13 (4), pp. 279 - 289
Issue Date:
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© Cambridge University Press 2014. Photosynthetic life requires sufficient photosynthetically active radiation to metabolize. On Earth, plant behaviour, physiology and metabolism are sculpted around the night-day cycle by an endogenous biological circadian clock. The evolution of life was influenced by the Earth-Sun orbital dynamic, which generates the photo-environment incident on the planetary surface. In this work, the unusual photo-environment of an Earth-like planet (ELP) in 3 : 2 spin-orbit resonance is explored. Photo-environments on the ELP are longitudinally differentiated, in addition to differentiations related to latitude and depth (for aquatic organisms) which are familiar on Earth. The light environment on such a planet could be compatible with Earth's photosynthetic life although the threat of atmospheric freeze-out and prolonged periods of darkness would present significant challenges. We emphasize the relationship between the evolution of life on a planetary body with its orbital dynamics.
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