Orbital Path

Earth, Desert Planet?

March 23rd, 2018

Episode description

Zoe is in 8th grade. She’s a student in Mr. Andersen’s Earth science class at a public school in Brooklyn.

Lately, she’s been concerned about the future of the planet.

Specifically, Zoe has been learning about the phenomenon of planetary dehydration — and she wanted to ask Dr. Michelle Thaller what would happen if Earth lost its water.

It’s part of a new Orbital Path project called “Telescope,” where Dr. Michelle Thaller fields astronomy questions from public school students.

Michelle says dehydration isn’t anything we’ll have to worry about in our lifetimes. But in 200 million years — not all that long, in astronomical terms — our planet could resemble the desert world of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”


Orbital Path is produced by David Schulman. The program is edited by Andrea Mustain. Production oversight by John Barth and Genevieve Sponsler. Hosted by Dr. Michelle Thaller.

The music heard in this episode is “Austin 1” by Manwomanchild.

Support for Orbital Path is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science, technology, and economic performance.

Mars image credit: NASA

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