Snapshot of Earth’s chemical fingerprint may help search for life in the universeJune 12th, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by ANI
Washington, June 12 (ANI): In a new study, a group of international scientists took the help of a lunar eclipse to take a snapshot of earth’s chemical fingerprint, which could help to identify planets most similar to earth where life may be thriving.
The team used some of the world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain) to observe light reflected from the moon toward the earth during a lunar eclipse on August 16, 2008.
The eclipse provided team members with a unique opportunity to mimic what they could observe if they were watching the earth pass in front of the sun from an extraterrestrial observatory.
When a planet passes in front of a star, part of the starlight passes through the planet’s atmosphere. That light contains the chemical composition of the planet and is called the transmission spectra of a planet.
The chemical composition describes what makes up the earth and what makes it habitable to humans.
Scientists expect planets similar to earth to bear a similar chemical composition.
The snapshot the team took gives NASA and other space agencies a list of ingredients to look for when evaluating newly discovered planets.
If a new planet has similar ingredients in the right proportion, then it would be a good target for further exploration.
“Now we have a much better idea about what to do to find planets similar to our own where life may be thriving,” Martin said. “The greatest reward will happen when one of those planets shows a spectrum like that of our earth,” he added. (ANI)
- Scientists need to focus on pale red dots to find Earth-like planets - Jun 30, 2009
- Now, scientists to hunt for aliens by analyzing reflected light - Jun 15, 2009
- New telescope improves chances of finding aliens - Jun 11, 2009
- Exoplanet neighbour smaller than Earth discovered - Jul 19, 2012
- NASA's super-Earth characterization could help find life on other planets - Dec 02, 2010
- Astronomers discover diamond-studded planet - Dec 09, 2010
- Meteorites created first life on earth? - Aug 09, 2011
- Traces of rare earth element detected in stars - Feb 22, 2012
- NASA confirms presence of 'baked cometary planet' - Jul 16, 2010
- India to witness darkest lunar eclipse Wednesday - Jun 14, 2011
- Astronomers detect first superstorm on exoplanet - Jun 24, 2010
- New Earth like planet found by European astronomers - Oct 04, 2010
- Rare Venus eclipse Thursday - Jun 29, 2011
- 50 new planets found - Sep 13, 2011
- Astronomers discover new planet in planetary system similar to our own - Dec 09, 2010
Tags: canary islands spain, chemical composition, chemical fingerprint, greatest reward, infrared telescopes, international scientists, la palma, life in the universe, Lunar Eclipse, nasa, new planet, observatory, planets, roque de los muchachos, snapshot, space agencies, spectra, starlight, target, team members