Lunar eclipse helped in the search for extraterrestrial life

06 Jul

Lunar, eclipseObserving the lunar eclipse allowed astronomers a way to search for habitable explants and analyze their atmosphere.

Spectral analysis of light reflected by the Moon, proved efficiency ways to search for habitable explanted, which was proposed by scientists from Britain, Portugal, USA, France, Switzerland and Chile. Their study will shortly be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Where to read the original?

Preprint article is available to all interested in the electronic database

And then the moon?

Search for potentially habitable explants is one of the most intriguing challenges facing astronomers. And not just because the question of the habitability of the universe beyond Earth is researchers almost since ancient times. It is also in technological progress: in the 1990’s scientists have been able to find only the heaviest and largest explanted, then in the 2000’s we are talking about the discovery of hundreds of celestial bodies the size even smaller than Jupiter.

To search for a large exoplanets have been built relatively inexpensive (on the background of orbital observatories and telescopes, with mirrors many-unique) system, so the most sophisticated equipment built for smaller-sized Earth. The space telescope, Kepler, a special system developed by NASA interferometer being built to replace the Hubble telescope the James Webb – all of these tools can make the search for Earth-like exoplanets from the fantasy a reality, and during the next decade.

But not enough just to have a powerful telescope, one must also be able to use it. Exoplanets are mostly not seen as separate points near the star and detected by indirect methods, to analyze the light of their stars. In addition, it is interesting not only find a planet that in mass like Earth, but also to find out whether it is suitable for breathing atmosphere.

To solve the latter problem needs a spectral analysis, and for the improvement of methods of spectral analysis would be good to find some object, whose composition is known to be known and the conditions of observation which correspond to the situation observing exoplanets. What falls under these requirements?

Moon. But not just the moon, and that part of it, which during the lunar eclipse is in the penumbra, then the reflected light it is a mixture of two kinds of rays of the sun. Some of the rays (and most of all) were from the Sun directly, but others have overcome the Earth’s atmosphere. And the light that passes through the planet’s atmosphere is undergoing some changes, the nature of which is directly related to the composition of the gas envelope of a celestial body!

When the obvious conclusion of more precious?

Spectral analysis of light reflected by the Moon, has enabled researchers to come to a basic conclusion: our planet, it turns out, there are oxygen and water. In other words, they develop the method given that, and so it was known as the stage of preliminary tests of such “secondary” is a clear validation of the idea.

Proving that the Earth can be inhabited, the researchers demonstrated the possibility to conduct a reliable analysis of other celestial bodies. And in this international group, watching the lunar eclipse, not alone, before the habitability of our planet with exactly the same to verify, and American experts, who shot the Earth from deep space. Then, by the size of a speck of a single pixel could even learn that the planet has at least one large ocean that you will agree, is already done.

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Posted by on July 6, 2010 in Galaxy


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