Exoplanet Biosignatures: Observational Prospects

Fujii, Yuka; Angerhausen, Daniel; Deitrick, Russell John; Domagal-Goldman, Shawn; Grenfell, John Lee; Hori, Yasunori; Kane, Stephen R.; Pallé, Enric; Rauer, Heike; Siegler, Nicholas; Stapelfeldt, Karl; Stevenson, Kevin B. (2018). Exoplanet Biosignatures: Observational Prospects. Astrobiology, 18(6), pp. 739-778. Mary Ann Liebert 10.1089/ast.2017.1733

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Exoplanet hunting efforts have revealed the prevalence of exotic worlds with diverse properties, including Earth-sized bodies, which has fueled our endeavor to search for life beyond the Solar System. Accumulating experiences in astrophysical, chemical, and climatological characterization of uninhabitable planets are paving the way to characterization of potentially habitable planets. In this paper, we review our possibilities and limitations in characterizing temperate terrestrial planets with future observational capabilities through the 2030s and beyond, as a basis of a broad range of discussions on how to advance “astrobiology” with exoplanets. We discuss the observability of not only the proposed biosignature candidates themselves but also of more general planetary properties that provide circumstantial evidence, since the evaluation of any biosignature candidate relies on its context. Characterization of temperate Earth-sized planets in the coming years will focus on those around nearby late-type stars. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and later 30-meter-class ground-based telescopes will empower their chemical investigations. Spectroscopic studies of potentially habitable planets around solar-type stars will likely require a designated spacecraft mission for direct imaging, leveraging technologies that are already being developed and tested as part of the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission. Successful initial characterization of a few nearby targets will be an important touchstone toward a more detailed scrutiny and a larger survey that are envisioned beyond 2030. The broad outlook this paper presents may help develop new observational techniques to detect relevant features as well as frameworks to diagnose planets based on the observables.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > NCCR PlanetS

UniBE Contributor:

Angerhausen, Daniel and Deitrick, Russell John

Subjects:

500 Science > 520 Astronomy
500 Science > 530 Physics

ISSN:

1531-1074

Publisher:

Mary Ann Liebert

Language:

English

Submitter:

Danielle Zemp

Date Deposited:

03 Jun 2019 10:45

Last Modified:

03 Jun 2019 10:45

Publisher DOI:

10.1089/ast.2017.1733

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.126822

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/126822

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