This week, I got into the subject of astrobiology and how scientists look for life beyond Earth. Since we can’t explore exoplanets directly, astrobiologists are confined to looking for the telltale chemical signatures that we associate with life and organic processes here on Earth (aka. biosignatures). Some examples include oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water, methane, and ammonia. In this episode, I explain how this is done and how next-generation telescopes are going to make it a lot easier!
And, of course, I get into how this whole process is complicated b our very limited frame of reference. As it stands, humans know of only one planet and chemical arrangement under which life can emerge and thrive. In short, planet Earth, with its nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere (and trace amounts of CO2), water on its surface, and orbiting around a G-type yellow star. As a result, we are confined to the “low-hanging fruit” approach.
But as long as we’re looking, we can expand the scope of “life as we know it.” Check it out below!