Could scientists soon detect alien ‘plant’ life on exoplanets?

An artist's rendition of an exoplanet.

An artist’s rendition of an exoplanet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Now we’re detecting dozens of exoplanets within the habitable zones of their stars — and even one world that has similar characteristics as Earth — the next big question will be: do any of these promising worlds host life?

Unfortunately, the answer will remain elusive for some time to come, but that hasn’t stopped scientists from formulating plans to seek out alien biomarkers that could be ripe for detection.

GALLERY: Top 10 Places To Find Alien Life

In a new paper submitted to the arXiv preprint service, astrophysicists Timothy Brandt and David Spiegel of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, New Jersey, focused on the hunt for the chemical signature of oxygen, water and chlorophyll in the atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanetary atmospheres. Oxygen and water are essential for life as we know it, and chlorophyll is a biomolecule vital for photosynthesis on Earth. Photosynthesis is the extraction of energy from sunlight, a process employed by plants and some microbes, such as cyanobacteria.

So the logic goes: If we can detect these molecules on an Earth-sized alien world, there could be some not-so-unfamiliar form of extraterrestrial life that has evolved to produce chlorophyll to extract energy from their star.

But the challenges to detect such signals are overwhelming, at least for the technology we have today. So the researchers have constructed some computer models in an effort to create hypothetical “second Earths” and the chemical signatures we may detect from afar.

Earth-Likenesses: Have We Discovered Earth 2.0?

The key issue facing any future space telescope set up to search for “Earth 2.0″ is that of contrast. Although analyzing the spectroscopic signature of large exoplanets has been done, often these worlds have wide orbits (well outside the habitable zone) or they are very large (like “hot-Jupiters”). Extracting a spectroscopic signal from a small world within the habitable zone of their star is tough, as the light from the star will overwhelm any reflected starlight signal from the exoplanet. The signal-to-noise ratio will be, basically, horrible.

This is where sophisticated models come in handy; if you can model an exoplanetary atmosphere with components similar to that of Earth, we know what chemical fingerprints to look for in observational data.

Brandt and Spiegel’s models created an ice world, a desert world and a world not so dissimilar to Earth (including oceans and vegetation). All their models assumed cloud cover of 50 percent. Then they simulated what chemical fingerprints could be detected in the spectroscopic signal. By far the easiest signal to detect would be that of water, a goal that could be achieved with technology we have today. But the detection of oxygen would be hard. But what of chlorophyll?

ANALYSIS: Bathing in the Sunset of an ‘Earth-Like’ Alien World

“Finally, we show that the ‘red edge’ of chlorophyll absorption … will be extremely difficult to detect, unless the cloud cover is much lower and/or the vegetation fraction is much higher than on Earth,” the researchers write. “Assuming extraterrestrial chlorophyll to have the same optical properties as the terrestrial pigments, and assuming Earth-like cloud and vegetation coverings, detecting chlorophyll will require a SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) 6 times higher than for diatomic oxygen…”

They point out that chlorophyll will only have as strong a signal as oxygen if the cloud cover is zero or if the planet has a higher proportion of its landmass covered in vegetation.

Although we may be waiting for some time until we can overcome the technological challenges to detect chlorophyll on an alien planet’s surface, it’s fascinating to think that the first hint of alien life could be through the detection of the signature of something that resembles terrestrial flora.

NEWS: Most ‘Earth-Like’ Alien World Discovered

But just because this hypothetical form of extraterrestrial life may extract energy from their host star using a form of photosynthesis, this doesn’t mean we’d necessarily be detecting vegetation as we know it. There could be an entirely different kind of life we won’t fully comprehend until we can view it up-close.

And who knows? Should we detect a nearby exoplanet rich in biomarkers, that could be the motivation we need to mount a future interstellar mission.

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Cosplayers for your Saturday!!

Cosplayers and cosplay for your Saturday enjoyment!

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Crime-Fighting Robots Go On Patrol In Silicon Valley

MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – A new kind of security guard is on patrol in Silicon Valley: crime-fighting robots that look like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie.

At first glance, the K5 security robot looks like a cartoonish Star Wars character.

“The vast majority of people see it and go, ‘Oh my God, that’s so cute.’ We’ve had people go up and hug it, and embrace it for whatever reason,” said Stacy Stephens, co-founder of Knightscope, headquartered in Mountain View.

They are unarmed, but they are imposing: about 5 feet tall and 300 pounds, which very likely will make someone think twice before committing a crime in their presence.

“The first thing that’s going to happen is the burglar is going to spot the robot. And unfortunately, criminals are inherently lazy. They’re not looking for something that’s going to be confrontational, they’re looking for something that’s going to be an easy target,” said Stacy Stephens, co-founder of Knightscope. “They see the robot and maybe they move down to the next place down the street.”

The security robots are autonomous, meaning they operate on their own. They don’t chase a bad guy down or make arrests.

They are designed to avoid confrontations. When someone steps right in front of one, the robot will stop. Then it will redirect its path around the person. All the while, sending video inside to a control center where a human is monitoring.

If a would-be burglar persists, Stephens said, “Then, the robot is looking at the video, listening for glass breakage, any loud sound that breaking in would cause. We’ll get the license plate, picture of the vehicle, geotag location, and time.”

The robots patrol using a similar technology as the self-driving Google car.

“It has a LIDAR (light image detection and ranging) that’s doing a 3D map,” Stephens said. “It will geofence itself and give itself a perimeter within which it will operate. And it moves around within that perimeter freely and it chooses its own path.”

The company said the robots will be deployed in outdoor settings, such as corporate campuses, college campuses and open air malls.

If someone decides to attack the robot, it could get uncomfortable. When first confronted, they let out a loud chirp and notify the control center. The chirps will get louder and louder as the threat persists.

“A very, very loud alarm,” said Stephens. “Think of a car alarm but much more intense.”

The security robots are now patrolling in the Bay Area.

The Knightscope K5s are in effect at an undisclosed location in the Silicon Valley.

“Unfortunately, I cannot share who it is,” Stephens said. “Soon you will see them everywhere.”

The makers of the robot said they have a long waiting list of about four dozen companies waiting for a K5. They expect to put many more of these robots in place sometime next year.

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Cute Dogs for Your Monday Blues

Cute dogs to start off the week right…

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Cosplay Pictures for the Weekend!

Cosplayers and their amazing cosplay for your enjoyment!

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Cool Star Trek Nail Designs

The most famous television show ever in the 1960s– Star Trek has impressed people successfully with its unique cast and storylines. There’re many Star Trek fans around the world though it is only shown on television for a few years. It was being able to give us a vision of the future world which looked better than our own now. Today, we’ve rounded up 15 super cool Star Trek nail designs for its big fans!
I bet there are plenty of people who still love the Star Trek television show right now. For those big fans, you can paint the cool Star Trek on your nails to express your strong affections for this famous show. Most of the Star Trek nails are featured with the recognizable symbol which is designed into the shinning silver color. Besides, you can also make a super cute Star Trek nail design making a full use of some bright colors you like.

Amazing Star Trek Nail Design
Amazing Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

White Star Trek Nail Design
White Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

Amazing Star Trek Nail Design

 

Amazing Star Trek Nail Design
Amazing Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

Colorful Star Trek Nail Design
Colorful Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

Cool Star Trek Nail Design
Cool Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

Cool Star Trek Nail Design
Cool Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

Cute Star Trek Nail Design
Cute Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

Glittering Star Trek Nail Design
Glittering Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

 

Sparkly Star Trek Nail Design
Sparkly Star Trek Nail Design Pinterest

 

Star Trek Nail Design for French Manicure
Star Trek Nail Design for French Manicure Pinterest

 

– See more at: http://www.prettydesigns.com/15-amazing-star-trek-nail-designs/#sthash.nGDCIcV4.dpuf

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Texas plumber whose old truck surfaced with Syrian terrorists sues dealership

EDITOR’S NOTE:  What would YOU do if your truck and logo were shown on an ISIS video?
Texas plumber’s truck appears to be used by terrorists

A Texas plumber who received death threats after his old pickup truck surfaced in Syria as a gun-equipped killing machine used by jihadis is now suing the dealership that bought the vehicle.

Mark Oberholtzer said he sold the 2005 Ford F-250 to a Ford dealership in 2013 as part of a trade-in deal for a newer model. The name and phone number of his Mark-1 Plumbing business in Texas City were still printed on the truck.

Oberholtzer’s truck was then auctioned off and shipped to Turkey, according to the lawsuit. It re-appeared a year later in a video from the Ansar al-Deen Front terrorist group, which showed extremists firing a high-powered gun that was mounted on the bed of the truck. The plumbing business’s decals were never removed.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, is seeking damages for “substantial lost revenues and business good will” after Oberholtzer closed Mark-1 Plumbing offices for a week because he was getting “harassing” phone calls.

“All this while, Mark-1’s revenues were lost and the company’s reputation and standing in the business and local community was irretrievably damaged,” the lawsuit adds.

The lawsuit also claims that an employee from Mark-1 Plumbing tried to peel off the truck’s decal before the sale, but a worker at the dealership said doing so would damage the vehicle’s paint and he had something that works better for removal. The dealership never covered the decals, Oberholtzer claims.

He says he’s owned his plumbing business for 33 years and his son said the family has no ties to terror.

“How it ended up in Syria, I’ll never know,” Oberholtzer told The Galveston Daily News.

AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway did not immediately return a phone call from FoxNews.com.

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