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Biosignature False PositivesIn our search for life - whether within the earliest part of Earth's geologic record, on planets within our solar system such Mars, or especially for extrasolar planets - we must infer the presence of life from its impact on the local or global environment. These "biosignatures," often identified from the known influence of terrestrial organisms on the Earth's atmosphere and surface, could be misdiagnosed when we apply them to alien worlds. The so-called false positives may occur when another process or suite of processes masks or mimics a biosignature. Here, we examine several leading biosignatures, then introduce potential false positives for these signals, and finally discuss methods to discriminate between the two using current and future detection technologies. We conclude that it is the astrobiology community's responsibility to thoroughly exhaust all possibilities before we resort to "life" as an explanation.
Document ID
20180004768
Document Type
Book Chapter
Authors
Harman, Chester E. (Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Domagal-Goldman, Shawn (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 29, 2018
Publication Date
April 12, 2018
Publication Information
Publication: Handbook of Exoplanets
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
GSFC-E-DAA-TN58220
Funding Number(s)
CONTRACT_GRANT: NNH13ZDA017C
CONTRACT_GRANT: NNH12ZDA002C
CONTRACT_GRANT: NNH15ZDA001N-HW
CONTRACT_GRANT: NNX15AJ05A
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Use by or on behalf of the US Gov. Permitted.

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