Looking for Moons in All the Wrong Places

The first story in my Tomorrow News Network series is set on a moon orbiting the planet 55 Cancri f, which the characters refer to as “Cancriph.”  Cancriph is a real planet, one of the first discovered in the habitable zone of any star.  Since Cancriph is a gas giant, not a rocky world like Earth, it cannot support life as we know it, but there is no reason to believe it doesn’t have habitable moons like the one in my story.

The surface of Cancriph's second moon.

Now astronomers think they’ve learned enough about exoplanets (planets outside our Solar System) to start looking for exomoons.  Using data already obtained by the Kepler Space Telescope, a team of researchers hopes to find subtle differences in the orbits of known exoplanets which might be caused by their accompanying moons.

Make no mistake: this is going to be painstaking work.  It’s hard enough to find exoplanets, even gas giants like Cancriph; finding their tiny moons is next to impossible.  But our planet detecting techniques have improved over the years.  Just recently, scientists announced the discovery of exoplanets smaller than Earth and the possible discovery of an exoplanet with Saturn-like rings.  With time and practice, I’m sure they’ll be able to find moons too.

And when they do, I hope someone takes a good, long look at the second moon of Cancriph before we send people there.

For more information on the search for exomoons, click here.

To read “The Medusa Effect,” set on Cancriph’s second moon, click here.

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