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Paleobiology & Biosignatures: September 2013


Detecting Biomarkers on Faraway Planets

On Earth, life leaves telltale signals in the atmosphere. Photosynthesis is ultimately responsible for the high oxygen levels and the thick ozone layer. Microbes emit methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, and seaweeds emit chloromethane gas.

A novel, hybrid part-human, part-machine visual system that uses a simple mobile phone camera has been developed to search for evidence of past or present life in planetary analogue sites on Earth. Patrick McGuire from the Freie Universitaet, Berlin, will present results from this Cyborg Astrobiologist at the European Planetary Science Congress in London on Monday 9th September.

Observations of the Earth as a planet using the earthshine technique (i.e. looking at the light reflected from the darkside of the Moon), have been used for climate and astrobiology studies.