Deciphering spectral fingerprints of habitable exoplanets

Kaltenegger, Lisa; Selsis, Frank; Fridlund, Malcolm; Lammer, Helmut; Beichman, Charles; Danchi, William; Eiroa, Carlos; Henning, Thomas; Herbst, Tom; Léger, Alain; Liseau, René; Lunine, Jonathan; Paresce, Francesco; Penny, Alan; Quirrenbach, Andreas; Röttgering, Huub; Schneider, Jean; Stam, Daphne; Tinetti, Giovanna and White, Glenn J. (2010). Deciphering spectral fingerprints of habitable exoplanets. Astrobiology, 10(1) pp. 89–102.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2009.0381

Abstract

We discuss how to read a planet's spectrum to assess its habitability and search for the signatures of a biosphere. After a decade rich in giant exoplanet detections, observation techniques have advanced to a level where we now have the capability to find planets of less than 10 Earth masses (MEarth) (so-called "super Earths"), which may be habitable. How can we characterize those planets and assess whether they are habitable? This new field of exoplanet search has shown an extraordinary capacity to combine research in astrophysics, chemistry, biology, and geophysics into a new and exciting interdisciplinary approach to understanding our place in the Universe. The results of a first-generation mission will most likely generate an amazing scope of diverse planets that will set planet formation, evolution, and our planet into an overall context.

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