Recently in the Biosignatures & Paleobiology Category


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.

As NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and other new giant telescopes come online they will need novel strategies to look for evidence of life on other planets.

For the first time in human history, we will soon be able to apply the scientific method to the question "Are We Alone?" The rapid advance of exoplanet discovery, planetary systems science, and telescope technology will soon allow scientists to search for life beyond our Solar System through direct observation of extrasolar planets.

Here we advocate an observational strategy to help prioritize exoplanet observations.