Biosignatures & Paleobiology: December 2019

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.