The first element in human life outside of Earth was methane, but scientists have to go through it before they can report any information about chemistry.
If there is on the exoplanet There is methane in the atmosphere, which may be a sign of life – even when global conditions are right. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz, have developed a program for those positions to guide analytical scientists to foreign worlds.
In the case of a small rocky planet orbiting a star like ours daythe researchers found that methane was a biosignature (a symbol that indicates life in the past or present) if the earth meets three factors: if the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, if the methane of the atmosphere is more than carbon monoxide, a. if the earth had no water resources.
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“Molecular doesn’t give you the answer – you have to think about the whole universe,” lead author Maggie Thompson, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz, said. spoken in a language. “Methane is a piece of the puzzle, but to determine if there is life on Earth, you have to think about its geochemistry, how it interacts with its star, and the many processes that can be linked to the Earth’s atmosphere at geologic times. “
Although methane is thought to be a viable biosignature, there are several nonbiological processes that can form the gas, from volcanoes to asteroid consequences. Therefore, researchers at UC Santa Cruz have focused on minimizing the risk of adverse effects when viewing air methane as a biosignature.
For example, emissions from volcanoes not only add methane to the air, but also carbon monoxide, but the action of methane to eliminate carbon monoxide. Therefore, if the air contains large amounts of methane and carbon monoxide, methane may not be a biosignature.
According to NASA The James Webb Space Telescope coming to life this summer, it will be able to study air methane in greater detail than other biosignatures, so scientists want a new study. But researchers are keeping real data about real planets in clusters.
“This study looks at the negative effects of methane as a biosignature,” lead author Joshua Krissansen-Totton, an astrobiologist at UC Santa Cruz, said in a statement. “The skies of rock exoplanets may surprise us, and we need to be careful in our interpretation.”
of the teaching published Monday (March 28) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.