Working alongside colleagues at NASA, University of Washington and UNAM, Mexico, Dr Mark Claire of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has discovered that signs previously thought to confirm the presence of life on alien planets, might not be as definitive proof as thought.
Whilst searching for life on other planets, astronomers rely on finding gases – such as oxygen, ozone or methane – in the planet’s atmosphere, as these are thought to be significant signs of the existence of life.
However, the research published this week in The Astrophysical Journal, proves that the existence of one of these alone is not enough to predict the presence of organic life. The research strengthens the belief that the existence of detectable levels of oxygen, ozone and methane together would be a convincing sign of life on another planet. [full article: doi:10.1088/0004-637X/792/2/90] [press release]