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The best evidence of carbon-based biotic activity, short of finding the
organisms themselves, is the presence of bi-atomic oxygen (O2) in the planet's
Bi-atomic oxygen gives a strong absorbtion spectrum, even from extremely faint
light sources. If present, even in small ppm, it should be easily detected in
the spectrographs of exoplanets.
Such O2 wouldn't be "fossil" oxygen, though. Since O2 is quickly recycled back
into the planet's lithosphere, its presence would indicate critters that are
If there is O2 trapped as bubble inclusions in the Europan ice crust, it would
be extremely strong evidence for photosynthetic life occuring either in, or
just below, its crust.
A Europa orbiter with an O2 "sniffer" might be able to detect this out-gassing.
There may not be any need to land on its surface.
---------- Original Message ----------
From: Erik Boehm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: exopaleontology
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2010 01:12:28 -0700 (PDT)
I'm a subscriber to the "Rare Earth" hypothesis.
The only "fossils" I would think one would have a reasonable chance of finding,
would be "chemical fossils" like the evidence for life on earth 3.8 billion
I wouldn't rule out microbial life, but I don't think you'll be finding fossils
of multicellular/macroscopic life.
--- On Mon, 6/21/10, Dann Pigdon <email@example.com> wrote:
> From: Dann Pigdon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: exopaleontology
> To: email@example.com
> Date: Monday, June 21, 2010, 9:55 PM
> On Tue, Jun 22nd, 2010 at 2:45 PM,
> "Richard W. Travsky" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > On Sun, 20 Jun 2010, Ian Paulsen wrote:
> > > http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20100619/sc_space/robotscouldhuntforfossilsoneuropa
> > I swear I just recently read something about
> possible/potential fossil
> > sites on Mars... can't find it now, darn it...
> It seems people will search for fossils just about
> anywhere. I'd draw the line at Uranus though.
> Dann Pigdon
> Spatial Data Analyst
> Australian Dinosaurs
> Melbourne, Australia
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