Starting Life And Searching For Life On Rocky Planets


Spectral features for prebiosignatures as a function of wavelength. The species include carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), sulfur dioxide (SO2), imidazole (C3N2H4), cyanamide (CH2N2), cyanoacetylene (HC3N), nitric oxide (NO), methane (CH4), acetylene (C2H2) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN). Icons represent whether the signatures are primary prebiosignatures (species directly relevant for prebiotic chemistry), secondary prebiosignatures (species that are produced by events that are relevant for prebiotic chemistry, such as volcanism, lightning, impacts or particles ejected from the star) or both. The features are strong to weak in proportion to the transparency of the rectangles. Spectra and relevant references can be found at https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/UTFCHI.

The study of origins of life on Earth and the search for life on other planets are closely linked. Prebiotic chemical scenarios can help prioritize planets as targets for the search for life as we know it and can provide informative priors to help us assess the likelihood that particular spectroscopic features are evidence of life.

The prerequisites for origins scenarios themselves predict spectral signatures. The interplay between origins research and the search for extraterrestrial life must start with lab work guiding exploratory ventures in the solar system, and the discoveries in the solar system informing future exoplanet observations and laboratory research. Subsequent exoplanet research will in turn provide statistical context to conclusions about the nature and origins of life.

Paul B Rimmer, Sukrit Ranjan, Sarah Rugheimer

Comments: To be published as article 7 in the "Geoscience Beyond the Solar System" issue of Elements magazine, v17 No4
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2108.08388 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2108.08388v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Paul Rimmer [view email] [via Oliver Shorttle as proxy]
[v1] Wed, 18 Aug 2021 20:55:08 UTC (1,065 KB)
https://arxiv.org/abs/2108.08388
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