Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Problems of Planet Classification for Space Explorers

 There is a quandary in classifying planets that bridges the gap between science and science fiction... especially as it relates to roleplaying games.

First, there is no standard scientific planetary classification system in the real world.
Many systems have been developed or proposed by various space exploration and astronomical groups. For the gamer, these systems do not always work well, any way. Classifying a planet by mass alone leaves off many factors of planetary attributes. The Surdasky extrasolar planetary classification method is only for gas giants (the majority type of extra-solar planets discovered so far).

Secondly, some people like to use the Star Trek universe method of classification... you know the one where Earth-like planets are "Class-M" ones. The Traveller game world has its own system, too. This may work in some instances for Sci-Fi or gaming, but has little to do with the real world and it complex. There are even more complex Science Fiction planetary classification systems out there such as the type found here:

SO, we see there are some problems and none is completely satisfying in the real world or in gaming.

I recently saw an article that brings the general classification of planets down to those commonly encountered in the galaxy. I was wondering if it could be used in "looser" science fiction games, where the many distinct attributes of a planet do not need to be tracked.

What do you think?

Image and article found here:

1 comment:

  1. Here's one I made:
    Mass: Asteroid, Mesoplanet, Terrestrial, Superearth, Giant

    Composition:Iron, Silica, Carbon, Water, Gas-Rock-Ices, Gas-Less Rock

    Orbit: Epistellar, Hot, Temperate, Cold, Elliptical, Tidal(moon of a giant)

    Atmosphere/Ocean: Mostly H-He, CH4(methane), NH3(Ammonia), O2-N2-H2O-Ar, Carbon Dioxide, Molten Rock and Metal, none

    Ocean Coverage: None, Vapour/Clouds, Underground, Oceans, Ice Oceans, Water World, Ice world

    Feel free to account for special cases (kepler 62c) and change the pidgeonhole to a class-by-class system.