Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Exoplanets: Possible Biosignatures

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 22, 2017
Filed under
Exoplanets: Possible Biosignatures

The ancestor philosophers’ dream of thousands of new worlds is finally realised: about 3500 extrasolar planets have been discovered in the neighborhood of our Sun. Most of them are very different from those we used to know in our Solar System.

Others orbit their parent star inside the belt known as Habitable Zone where a rocky planet with the appropriate climate could have the availability of liquid water on its surface. Those planets, in HZ or not, will be the object of observation that will be performed by new space-/ground-based instrumentation. Space missions, such as JWST and the very recently proposed ARIEL (ESA M-Class Mission), or ground based instruments (SPHERE@VLT, GPI@GEMINI and EPICS@ELT) have been proposed and built to measure the atmospheric transmission, reflection and emission spectra over a wide wavelength range.

Most of exoplanets have local counterparts in the Solar System planets that are available for comparative studies, but there are also interesting outsider cases like super Earths. In our own system, proto-planet evolution was flanked by an active prebiotic chemistry that brought about the emergency of life on the Earth. The search for life signatures requires the knowledge of planet atmospheres, main objective of future exoplanetary space explorations.

As, for now, we have only one example of life in the universe, we are bound to study terrestrial organisms to assess possibilities of life on other planets and guide our search for possible extinct or extant life on other planetary bodies. The planet atmosphere characteristics and possible biosignatures will be inferred by studying such composite spectrum in order to identify the emission/absorption lines/bands from atmospheric molecules as water, carbon monoxide, methane, ammonia etc.

Comments: Accepted, PoS-SISSA (2017), paper presented at the Mondello Workshop 2016 on “Frontier Research in Astrophysics – II”, Franco Giovannelli (Ed.)
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1708.05829 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1708.05829v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Riccardo Claudi
[v1] Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:45:00 GMT (651kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻