Recently in the Biosignatures & Paleobiology Category


With the recent discoveries of terrestrial planets around active M-dwarfs, destruction processes masking the possible presence of life are receiving increased attention in the exoplanet community.

Sleuthing by a Rice University postdoctoral fellow is part of a new Nature paper that gives credence to theories about Earth's atmosphere 1.4 billion years ago.

The banded iron formation, located in western China, has been conclusively dated as Cambrian in age. Approximately 527 million years old, this formation is young by comparison to the majority of discoveries to date.

A milestone in understanding life in the universe is the detection of biosignature gases in the atmospheres of habitable exoplanets.

Current investigations of exoplanet biosignatures have focused on static evidence of life, such as the presence of biogenic gases like O2 or CH4.

Even though it was not designed as an exoplanetary research mission, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has been opportunistically used for a novel experiment, in which Earth serves as a proxy exoplanet.

The hunt for life in these places, which are impossible to visit in person, will begin with a search for biological products in their atmospheres.

Surface and Temporal Biosignatures

Recent discoveries of potentially habitable exoplanets have ignited the prospect of spectroscopic investigations of exoplanet surfaces and atmospheres for signs of life.

Much like detectives who study fingerprints to identify the culprit, scientists used NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to find the "fingerprints" of water in the atmosphere of a hot, bloated, Saturn-mass exoplanet some 700 light-years away.

Chemical disequilibrium in planetary atmospheres has been proposed as a generalized method for detecting life on exoplanets through remote spectroscopy.