Key To Finding Alien Life Is In Their Gas
Finding traces of gas excretions could be our best hope of finding alien life, that is according to new research that was revealed at the European Planetary Science Congress in London last week. According to Lee Grenfell, a new generation of telescopes can massively boost our chances of finding life on other planets. The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is thought to have the capabilities of picking up certain potential 'biomarkers' left on exoplanets by organic life.
The hope is that any biological life forms will secrete some form of gas wastage, which when released into the atmosphere, will leave certain "finger prints" for us to detect. When chemicals are released into the atmosphere, they change the way light passes through it and it is these subtle changes that scientists hope that telescopes like the E-ELT will be able to detect.
"The main aim of our work is to assess the possible range of biomarker signals that might be detected by future telescopes" said Grenfell on his work. "To do this, we developed computer models of exoplanets which simulate the abundances of different biomarkers and the way they affect the light shining through a planet's atmosphere".
Using this model along with the rather excellent example of Earth's atmosphere, Grenfell and his team now have a good idea as to just what they should be looking for, but that's not to say it is without its flaws. Biomarkers in an exoplanet's atmosphere don't necessarily equal alien farts; they could just as easily be non-biological by-products.
So it would seem we are still some way away from getting a Futurama style Smell-o-Scope, but at least we know that farts serve more of a purpose than making us feel socially awkward...