Moon’s Reflections Pave Road to Extraterrestrial Life

With the Very Large Telescope operated by the European Southern Observatory, a group of scientists have confirmed that life on Earth exists. Now, why does this matter?

Well, it’s not really Earth that these scientists are interested in. By applying this same technique they used to observe evidence of biological activity on Earth, the scientists will look for similar life-potential chemical signatures on distant exoplanets. So, how did they do it?

When sunlight hits the Earth some of it is reflected off of the planet and hits the moon. A second reflection then occurs where that light is reflected off of the moon back toward Earth. This second reflection is what the scientists measured.

It all comes down to a unique property of light – polarization. When light, such as sunlight, is reflected off an object, such as the moon it is polarized. Scientists can distinguish the difference between polarized and non-polarized sunlight.

So, when experts observe light from a far-off planetary system, they can separate the light from the host star and the reflected light from the planet. This reflected light holds the key to determining whether the planet is hosting any biological activity.

For example, if certain chemical signatures such as oxygen and water (which were present in the Earth’s reflected light off of the moon) are detected, this may be an indication for extraterrestrial life.

For more information you may read the press release.

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