Why We Want to Find Plate Tectonics in Space

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It’s not easy to find active plate tectonics on other worlds, but doing so may bring us one step closer to finding a planet that can support life.






Thumbnail Credit

Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Tags: scishow, scishow space, Space, Science, hank green, astrophysics, astronomy

  1. Zeb K

    Jupiter’s moon IO. Speaking of Jupiter what has the Juno project been up to?

  2. Mangofretchen

    There probably are huge numbers of intelligent alien species just outside our observable universe :)

  3. Me

    Dang it. 🌎 keeps sounding more rare by the minute

    [YT has a bot that deletes factual comments]

  4. Scharfaced

    I hope scishow knows more about planets than swords.

  5. John Eriksson

    Great vid!
    Water is needed for humans to live, but we have life on earth that doesn’t require water, so extra terrestrial life could require something else. And this life probably doesn’t have human shape. ;)

  6. Geoffry Gifari

    wait… so tectonic activity is actually an uncommon phenomenon among rocky planets? wow. do scientists know what kind of planet has it?

  7. Bruce Keller

    I love how so many planets are ‘habitable’ when they are tidally locked with some star that is blasting them with radiation all the time. Like the ‘habitable’ planets on Interstellar.

  8. Christian K

    why are rocky planets in the inner solar system? I thought orbits are indifferent of mass (if it is way smaller than the orbiting body)

  9. Gabriel G. Cunha

    #tecktonik is life 🤣😂

  10. Steven Utter

    Why did the space cop pull over the ex-planet?

    Orbiting with expired plates.
    And when the space cop asked him if knew how fast he was going he replied
    Not nearly as fast as the galaxy.

  11. Guff

    Very very poor audio editing. Stop removing the pauses between sentences. It make it unintelligible.

  12. Barry Dysert

    Ah yes, the mythical JWST. Someday may it be true! 🙏🖖

  13. NinjaStyle46

    I try to watch while sleeping. But yalls intro woke me back up lmao. Love the vids

  14. Richard Dean

    The James Whatever telescope 🔭🔭🔭 🤭🤣🙄🙄

  15. Goatcha

    Strong magnetic field is another key element or you end up like Venus or Mars.

  16. Skoda130

    You won’t even have a life-protecting magnetosphere without plate tectonics. Both are the product of the same underlying process.

  17. Jack Berry

    Gravitational stresses seem to allow tectonic activity to occur. With that in mind it’s very possible Pluto and charon both have them!

  18. Capitalist Warrior

    But life on super-Earths with 10x our mass wouldn’t be able to use conventional rockets to reach orbit. They’be be stuck on the surface, like a bunch of suckas.

  19. Capitalist Warrior

    His lower philtrum is bald & it’s really annoying.

  20. Vincent S

    Water doesn’t just reduce the friction coefficients, but also reduces the melting temperature of rocks. Without this reduced melting temperature, plate tectonics would likely be unsustainable on Earth (and other planets).

  21. Robert Evans

    Wow! This is incredible. Now that we know this, we can . . . . .
    Oh, yeah. There is nothing useful that we can do with this “knowledge”.
    Astronomy should never be supported by our tax dollars and be relegated to the hobby that it really is.

  22. Dev Dives Deeper

    Tectonics is a consequence of convection. Convection is more efficient than conduction. 2nd law of thermodynamics makes it clear that systems take the most efficient path to entropy, so that’s why we see convection everywhere it’s possible, and for that reason, we’ll see tectonics everywhere the temperature and geological conditions make it possible.

  23. Jage JG

    We need a Scishow space video on the naval UFO reports with grounded speculation, facts, and objectivity.

  24. Sayok Bhattacharya

    My mama called, she said ‘ son, saw u on tv’

  25. Arthur de Freitas

    Thank you

  26. tjousk

    Really should add a ‘…yet.’ to that title.

  27. VenomXII

    My Cod, such a Magnificent Beard.

  28. Velocirapper

    Just saw an atlas pro video a few days ago where he said the run away greenhouse effect on venus was caused in part by not having plate tectonics. So this is a great video to see pop up in my feed already.

  29. Tim Thompson

    I have a hard time listening to a lumberjack tell me about plate tectonics

  30. Stephen Hazel

    any chance we might find plate tectonics on the frozen moon with planetary ocean underneath? i forget it’s name – one of the most likely spots for other life in the solar system…

  31. McKenzie Zobrist

    Don’t moons like Titan, Europa and Ganymede have active tectonics, but instead of rock it’s water and cryo volcanism

  32. Maxwell's Demon

    00:30 Everyone ganging up on Australia lol

  33. Glenn Babić

    Infer models by deep space astronomers = speculate WILDLY.

  34. DMS1983

    So why does Earth have plate tectonics but not Venus?

  35. Walter Perry

    Super Earths… We would need better chemical rockets to visit and then have the ability to leave again wouldn’t we?

  36. Anthony Hernandez

    The moment we stop trying to find life on other planets based on our own selves, is the moment we’ll find life on other planets.

  37. Michael Brink

    I haven’t watched in awhile, I’m pretty sure my boy gained the covid 19.

  38. Christopher Weeks

    Is “because it’s cool” not enough of an answer to the title question?

  39. MRGRUMPY53

    Earth type planets, that meet all of the Goldilocks requirements, might be incredibly rare. There might be only a few thousand in our entire Galaxy.

  40. Buck Anderson

    Don’t know this for certain but I imagine the moon drags the crust above the mantle kind of like the way the ball inside a spherical compass moves separately from it’s shell. Maybe it even increases the temperature due to friction.

  41. X-Man

    I haven’t watched the video. The answer is they are hoping to find a molten core because, if it is iron based, it would create a magnetic field around the planet. This would provide a level of protection from solar radiation for EVA’s on the surface. Plate tectonics generally do not happen without a molten core.

  42. 4vediotube

    If you close your eyes and listen, this guy sounds just like Neil D. Tyson. Remarkable

  43. Militant Pacifist

    I knew they were going to talk about the James Webb Space Telescope before I clicked on this video.

  44. Carissa Leonard

    I wonder if a large asteroid/planetoid collision caused the initial break when the crust was young and then the moons gravitational tug helped begin and/or continue plate movement. This leads me to wonder what will happen when the moon becomes tide locked or exits earths gravity field…

  45. Ikannuna Plays

    1:00 So are you saying that if too much Carbon is released we will get hotter but then colder and that volcanos cause climate change?

  46. Galen Richter

    wonder if gas giants would have similar (though much faster) mechanisms within their clouds. different densities of elements at different levels, differing levels of heat, pressure, and solar radiation could change what chemical reactions happen. could some clouds slip down into lower layers because of these factors?

  47. Psychlops 924

    I just saw a video from Atlas Pro talking about how a lack of plate tectonics doomed Venus. Are you guys stealing his ideas??? 🤔

  48. Thomas Motsifane

    I bet astronomers will discover extra-terrestrial while observing something completely unrelated. Like a gamma ray burst or something 😂

  49. Shimstock74

    First time seeing your new look. It works. Well done.

  50. Luke Wood

    Man, I wish astrogeology was a bigger field. I’d love to study stuff like that

  51. Daniel Surface

    I dig the beard 🤟🏻

  52. Zheng Jin

    “Next generation” James Webb Space Telescope huh?

  53. miospio

    Fast forward to year 2121: “When the James Webb Space Telescope launch’s, we’ll be able to see..yadda yadda yadda…..”

  54. Yiglic Persfactious

    Venus is the interesting case because of its size. Wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t get hit by the correct size object early on like the proto-earth.

  55. Laiba Gul

    Like in Rick and Morty the planets said “split the Pangea in two!”😂

  56. miospio

    What about moons…?

  57. Richard Banks

    When I eventually have grandchildren I’ll be sure to let them know that they will have to tell their grandchildren to watch the JWST launch.

  58. Herbert Fawcett

    Venus has a geologically young crust.

  59. Prove

    I’ve never been so lost but so engaged

  60. Craig H

    IF the JWT ever gets off the ground. IF.

  61. Michael Gray

    What’s life

  62. Docta Osiris

    Anyone else think this guy sounds like Neil deGrasse Tyson? 😲

  63. m g

    I wonder how much the probable collision that created our moon contributed to breaking the lid.

  64. MrTruehoustonian

    We found one example it’s called earth because earth is in space, I’m just saying I think I found a loophole hehe

  65. MaryCeleste86

    Why no link to the recommended episode?

  66. zaph does stuff

    The temperature gradient from being tidally locked right next your sun is a hella metal way to get tectonics, lol.

  67. whitulf

    Nice episode again.
    What always interested me here is how much impact the Theia-ProtoEarth-collision with Theia’s core fusing with ProtoEath’s one had for the plate tectonics compared with an Earth sized planet without that ‘extra’ drive for plate tectonics?

  68. Robert Martin

    I think the thumbnail is from Universe Sandbox 2

  69. Askarkg

    He looks like if Post Malone went into science instead.

  70. Yaria Samavan Carlan

    Because scientists hate the thought of us been alone…

    Keep searching… we’ll find them 😢 we will…

  71. Xeno Bardock

    Even if other planets have plate tectonics, they likely can’t glide anyway because the planet is one large supercontinent so its like they don’t have plate tectonics at all, unless the planet expanded and doubled in size for some reason, breaking up that supercontinent and allowing the broken continents to glide as plate tectonics on the mantle.

  72. skoitch

    I think a large moon is also helpful.

  73. mrbarbars1

    what about having relative large moon, as a factor? remeber reading somwere on moons affect on tectonic

  74. Devadas44

    I saw the video’s title, and fully expected the first line to something like: There’s no plate tectonics in space, because plate tectonics occurs on a planet, haha, but seriously [rest of the story].

  75. Rivit Raven

    I’m beginning to think that the moon may have had a significant factor in the formation of plate tectonics by placing stress on the Earth’s surface because of the plasticity of Earth’s crust when it began to cool.

  76. Osmosis Jones

    I think 10 times Earth’s mass might be do to moons

  77. Osmosis Jones

    The 6th planet on the on the trappist system has close orbit to the 5th that would create a lot of geological activity and strong magnetic fields.

  78. Kevin Roberts

    I would like to hear more about stagnant lid planets and why Venus and Mars are stagnant lid planets and why Earth broke its crust into plates.

  79. Kapten Hiu

    Hey I have an idea…. We need to investigate whether there’s a moon or planet other than Earth, in our solar system that have plate tectonic. I suggest Europa, Venus, Enceladus, and Titan.

  80. Osmosis Jones

    Could impacts actual make planets more habitable

  81. george so___s

    What we want is to realize earth is unique and we better start taking care of her.

  82. Osmosis Jones

    The wait of the oceans are what created the tectonic plates . And what happened to venuses moon? what ever caused it to spin the wrong way

  83. Osmosis Jones

    How earth got so much water doesn’t life make water so could the amount of water on Kelper 62e be a biosignature

  84. Jaaren Phillips

    Learn something new after every video! Thanks for making these!

  85. New Message

    Ad an ‘h’ and an ‘r’ to ‘The Plate Tectonics’, and you got a heckuva syth-pop band name..

  86. Physics Is awesome

    Physics is incredible ’cause i’ts the king of all science and knowledge

  87. StaticBlaster

    In my opinion, you’re like the bob Ross of astrophysics.

  88. a.

    You have a wonderful voice, Reid.

  89. Bryan

    We discover so much variety of planets. We are arrogant to think we’re the only life forms. But then, if we find a planet, we will be out of reach.. and nowhere soon.

  90. Duško Morientes

    Discovering plate tectonics on other worlds would definitely be ground breaking.

  91. jarne dewitte

    after hundreds of videos every title still sounds so cool

  92. Micha Grill

    Wow the YouTube notification actually worked for once!!!!!!! o/ lmao why di i get them normally A WEEK later?

  93. Adil Hussain


  94. Cornbreadfed Kirkpatrick

    Great upload

  95. Fakrul Islam Rony

    yes. first to see

  96. Micha Grill

    Well hello there

  97. Sporeasin

    Let’s find ’em

Comments are closed.