Biosignatures & Paleobiology: April 2017

H2O is a key molecule in characterizing atmospheres of temperate terrestrial planets, and observations of transmission spectra are expected to play a primary role in detecting its signatures in the near future.

The recent discovery of seven potentially habitable Earth-size planets around the ultra-cool star TRAPPIST-1 has further fueled the hunt for extraterrestrial life. Current methods focus on closely monitoring the host star to look for biomarkers in the transmission signature of exoplanet's atmosphere. However, the outcome of these methods remain uncertain and difficult to disentangle with abiotic alternatives.

Astronomers have detected an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b. This marks the first detection of an atmosphere around a low-mass Super-Earth, in terms of radius and mass the most Earth-like planet around which an atmosphere has yet been detected.