Document Type

Gateway Prize for Excellent Writing


This paper won the Gateway Science Writing Prize in the Spring of 2017. It was written in the Fall of 2016 for Physics Professor John Cannon's First-Year Course, Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology.


The habitability of M dwarf planets has been debated greatly, as their parent stars possess both beneficial and detrimental qualities for the development of life. Initially, the astrobiological community questioned their habitability (Dole 1964), but as research and modeling techniques have improved, astrobiologists have become more accepting of the idea of life on M dwarf planets (Shields et al. 2016). The question of these planets’ habitability has great significance, because their long lifespans and commonality in the universe make them legitimate candidates for a plethora of extrasolar spacecraft missions, and potentially for the first discovery of life in other systems.



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