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Biosignatures & Paleobiology: February 2016


The planned launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 will herald a new era of exoplanet spectroscopy. JWST will be the first telescope sensitive enough to potentially characterize terrestrial planets from their transmission spectra.

Research from the University of Washington-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory published Feb. 26 in Astrophysical Journal Letters will help astronomers better identify -- and thus rule out -- "false positives" in the search for life beyond Earth.

O2 and O3 have been long considered the most robust individual biosignature gases in a planetary atmosphere, yet multiple mechanisms that may produce them in the absence of life have been described.