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The new NASA mission will reduce false positives in searching for extraterrestrial life

via:cnBeta.COM     time:2019/8/5 14:13:12     readed:171


Although signs of technologies such as communications are one of the exploratory approaches being used, the discovery of extraterrestrial life in microorganisms, plants or animals is equally significant, and natural biomarkers such as oxygen or methane in the atmosphere may provide evidence of their existence. The problem, however, is that they are not entirely reliable. In some cases, gases such as oxygen can enter the planet's atmosphere without life, so just looking at the planets themselves does not tell the whole story - the stars around them also play an important role.

NASA astronomer Kevin France pointed out: "We use these as false positive biomarkers. In terrestrial planets, oxygen can be produced by photochemistry alone. If we think we know the atmosphere of a planet, but not the stars around it, we are likely to be mistaken.

Now, the new mission, led by France and his team, will help identify these false positives and prevent them from confusing people as they search for extraterrestrial life. It is understood that the new task, called Suborbital Imaging Spectrograph for Transition Region Irradiance from Nearby Exoplanet host stars (SISTINE), will study far-ultraviolet targets with wavelengths ranging from 100 to 160 nanometers, which most existing telescopes cannot measure.

Within this range, ultraviolet light can produce oxygen in the atmosphere of some planets. With this in mind, astronomers can examine red dwarfs and understand that any oxygen-rich readings of planets orbiting them should be reserved.

SISTINE will launch with the Blakc Brant IX sounding rocket. The mission will take a very short time and touch the edge of space briefly before returning to the ground. In short, the mission will take only about five minutes to observe.

It is reported that the first mission is scheduled to start on August 5, when it will take off from the White Sands Test Site in New Mexico. The mission will allow SISTINE to reach a maximum altitude of 174 miles (280 kilometers) to launch observations of the intense ultraviolet nebula NGC 6826.

After that, SISTINE will launch from Australia next year. This time, the instrument will observe ultraviolet light from Alpha Centauri A and B. These missions will support new telescopes such as James Weber's Space Vision.

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