What Makes an Exoplanet Habitable?

  • Released Friday, January 24th, 2020
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:45PM

This infographic explores some of the many factors that affect whether a planet can support life as we know it. A habitable planet is one that can sustain life as we know it for billions of years. A planet’s ability to harbor life results from the complex interplay between its host star, its own orbit and rotation, and the make-up of its surface and interior. One required ingredient for habitability is liquid water, so the planet must orbit in the region around its star where liquid water can exist on its surface. This region is called the habitable zone. But that alone is not enough — there are many other considerations that go into a planet’s potential for supporting life. PDF versions of the graphics tagged for screen readers are available at the bottom of this page.

Same as above in a narrower format. Complete text transcript available.Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Same as above in a narrower format.

Complete text transcript available.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The host star of a planet plays a big role in whether it can sustain life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more. Complete text transcript available.Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The host star of a planet plays a big role in whether it can sustain life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more.

Complete text transcript available.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

TA planet’s orbit, magnetic field, size and composition all factor into determining if it can sustain life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more. Complete text transcript available.Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

TA planet’s orbit, magnetic field, size and composition all factor into determining if it can sustain life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more.

Complete text transcript available.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Explore this infographic to learn more about how a planet’s atmosphere can affect its habitability. Complete text transcript available.Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Explore this infographic to learn more about how a planet’s atmosphere can affect its habitability.

Complete text transcript available.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Liquid water on a planet’s surface is needed to support life as we know it. Explore this infographic for additional ways that water can affect a planet’s habitability. Complete text transcript available.Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Liquid water on a planet’s surface is needed to support life as we know it. Explore this infographic for additional ways that water can affect a planet’s habitability.

Complete text transcript available.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Volcanoes and chemical interactions help determine if a planet can sustain life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more. Complete text transcript available.Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Volcanoes and chemical interactions help determine if a planet can sustain life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more.

Complete text transcript available.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Even a planet’s core plays a role in sustaining life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more. Complete text transcript available.Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Even a planet’s core plays a role in sustaining life as we know it. Explore this infographic to learn more.

Complete text transcript available.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center



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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. However, individual items should be credited as indicated above.


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