Uniform non-rotating planet

The latest podcast from StarTalk Radio considered the problems of sending humans to Mars — getting there and living there. Along the way, the discussion turned to baseball (probably not surprising for October) and how the game would be different played in the lower-gravity environment of Mars (need a much bigger outfield, for a start!) We love conversations like this!

Alene reminded me of the uniform non-rotating planet — a concept you have probably encountered if you have taken a class in atmospheric science or oceanography. In order to understand the global circulation of the atmosphere (or oceans), it helps to begin with consideration of the simplest case of a planet which does not rotate (so no Coriolis effect) and which is either all land or all water (so no differential heating effects.) What you’re left with is just a simple vertical circulation driven by heating at the equator, where air rises, and cooling at the poles, where air sinks — on the side of the planet facing the sun, that is. You don’t worry about what’s happening on the side of the planet facing away from the sun — unless you want to wind up your professor.

Ever since Alene first heard of the uniform non-rotating planet, she has wanted to see one — if such a thing exists. In fact, she jokes that if she ever gets an audience with God, that will be the first thing she asks of Him.

In that first class, she asked the professor (one of those clever MIT types) if he thought there might really be an example somewhere out there in space.

Rather than looking at her as though she were stupid, he just grinned and declared, “Oh, there’s gotta be!”

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