Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Bioverse: A Simulation Framework To Assess The Statistical Power Of Future Biosignature Surveys

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
January 27, 2021
Filed under
Bioverse: A Simulation Framework To Assess The Statistical Power Of Future Biosignature Surveys
A high-level outline of the Bioverse code. In this paper, we apply Bioverse to assess the detectability of two hypothetical population-level trends (green) with next-generation survey telescopes. These relationships are injected into the simulated planet population by the first module, then tested as statistical hypotheses by the third module.

Next-generation space observatories will conduct the first systematic surveys of terrestrial exoplanet atmospheres and search for evidence of life beyond Earth.

While in-depth observations of the nearest habitable worlds may yield enticing results, there are fundamental questions about planetary habitability and evolution which can only be answered through population-level studies of dozens to hundreds of terrestrial planets. To determine the requirements for next-generation observatories to address these questions, we have developed Bioverse. Bioverse combines existing knowledge of exoplanet statistics with a survey simulation and hypothesis testing framework to determine whether proposed space-based direct imaging and transit spectroscopy surveys will be capable of detecting various hypothetical statistical relationships between the properties of terrestrial exoplanets.

Following a description of the code, we apply Bioverse to determine whether an ambitious direct imaging or transit survey would be able to determine the extent of the circumstellar habitable zone and study the evolution of Earth-like planets. Given recent evidence that Earth-sized habitable zone planets are likely much rarer than previously believed (Pascucci et al. 2019), we find that space missions with large search volumes will be necessary to study the population of terrestrial and habitable worlds. Moving forward, Bioverse provides a methodology for performing trade studies of future observatory concepts to maximize their ability to address population-level questions, including and beyond the specific examples explored here.

Alex Bixel, Dániel Apai
Comments: 29 pages, 11 figures, 5 tables. Accepted to AJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2101.10393 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2101.10393v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Alex Bixel [view email]
[v1] Mon, 25 Jan 2021 20:26:36 UTC (1,200 KB)

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) 🖖🏻