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Experts have by now discovered a large number of potentially habitable planets outside our solar system. Also, there are surely a lot more out there waiting to be found. But the same question remains: are we alone in the universe? Probably not. However, if that’s the case, why haven’t we been contacted or found other alien life forms? It’s uncertain but one thing is sure. Experts are now planning to begin the hunt for extraterrestrial life by studying the biological products of these planets’ atmospheres.
There are like fingerprints of life, also known as biosignatures. Those can only be detected using some next-generation telescopes that can measure the gas composition that surrounds these far away planets. The problem is that sometimes, the measurements of these biosignatures can be misleading. This is why a team of researchers is now developing a quantitative framework for dynamic biosignatures based on how the Earth’s atmosphere is changing seasonally. The Astrophysical Journal Letters has recently published the paper called Atmospheric Seasonality As An Exoplanet Biosignature, in which lead author is Stephanie Olson is detailing this initiative.
Seasonality of the Earth, the hope for finding alien life
Seasons happen because our planet orbits the Sun. This means that at certain times of the year, certain areas on the globe receive more sunrays than others, hence the warm or cold seasons. The weather is the first thing that changes, along with the length of days and nights. However, apart from those unsurprising facts, the atmospheric composition also changes. This is what the scientists want to base their initiative on finding alien life on.
According to Olson, the atmospheric seasonality of our planet is the most promising biosignature. This is mainly because it’s modulated on an inhabited planet, the Earth. Because of this, it’s highly likely that it may occur on other possibly habited planets too.
Image source: flickr