Scanning for Alien Life?

Huge telescopes around the world, like one being built in Chile, could actually be used to scan for alien life by detecting oxygen on other planets. Scientists say that as all plants and bacteria on this planet give off Oxygen when they are living, finding oxygen on another planet could hint at life. New Scientist says ‘Current telescopes can look at the light that passes through exoplanet atmospheres and tease out their make-up, based on the substances that absorb particular wavelength bands.’ They say that they are even doing this for planets as big as Jupiter, and can be used to detect oxygen on planets hundreds of light years away.

Around the world, huge telescopes may be built to hopefully extend our knowledge of potential life, or just gain information about the universe as we know it. These telescopes, however, were not built solely for the purpose of detecting oxygen.

But, apparently, there are no telescopes currently large enough to complete the job usefully. In fact, most of the ground observations cannot filter out earth’s oxygen filled atmosphere and Space missions designed to find oxygen on distant planets have been cancelled. The first telescope which scientists feel would be able to do the job effectively would be the ‘European Extremely Large Telescope’ in Chile which is due to be completed within the next decade which has a 39 meter main mirror, one of the largest we have ever seen.

(Source of information: New Scientist Magazine)

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