Recently in the Biosignatures & Paleobiology Category


Since planets around other stars (exoplanets) are so far away, scientists cannot look for signs of life by visiting these distant worlds.

In the near future we will have ground- and space-based telescopes that are designed to observe and characterize Earth-like planets. While attention is focused on exoplanets orbiting main sequence stars, more than 150 exoplanets have already been detected orbiting red giants, opening the intriguing question of what rocky worlds orbiting in the habitable zone of red giants would be like and how to characterize them.

With the first observations of debris disks as well as proposed planets around white dwarfs, the question of how rocky planets around such stellar remnants can be characterized and probed for signs of life becomes tangible.

The next generation of ground- and space-based telescopes will be able to observe rocky Earth-like planets in the near future, transiting their host star. We explore how the transmission spectrum of Earth changed through its geological history.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is expected to revolutionize our understanding of Jovian worlds over the coming decade. However, as we push towards characterizing cooler, smaller, "terrestrial-like" planets, dedicated next-generation facilities will be required to tease out the small spectral signatures indicative of biological activity.

Habitable planets are often defined as terrestrial worlds capable of maintaining surface liquid water. As a result, atmospheric water vapor can be a critical indicator of habitability. Thus, habitability-themed exoplanet investigations emphasize detection of water vapor signatures for their targets.

A Cornell University senior has come up with a way to discern life on exoplanets loitering in other cosmic neighborhoods: a spectral field guide.

A long-term goal of exoplanet studies is the identification and detection of biosignature gases. Beyond the most discussed biosignature gas O2, only a handful of gases have been considered in detail.

Scientists have found exceptionally preserved microbial remains in some of Earth's oldest rocks in Western Australia - a major advance in the field, offering clues for how life on Earth originated.

A recent study supported in part by the NASA Exobiology Program provides further details about lipid biomarkers in stromatolites. The research focuses on microbial mat communities in ponds at Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico.