Many rocky exoplanets are heavier and larger than the Earth and have higher surface gravity. This makes space-flight on these worlds very challenging because the required fuel mass for a given payload is an exponential function of planetary surface gravity, exp(g0). We find that chemical rockets still allow for escape velocities on Super-Earths up to 10× Earth mass. More massive rocky worlds, if they exist, would require other means to leave the planet, such as nuclear propulsion. This is relevant for space colonization and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
International Journal of Astrobiology
- Pub Date:
- October 2019
- Physics - Popular Physics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Accepted for publication in the International Journal of Astrobiology. arXiv admin note: substantial text overlap with arXiv:1803.11384