“In science fiction, there is a lot of effort put into searching for signs of life like plants, animals and organisms that look like us. But there is a higher probability that alien life will be at the microscopic level,” says Rutgers University geochemist, Nathan Yee, co-investigator at the NASA-funded ENIGMA project that’s researching how proteins, “sophisticated nanomachines,” evolved to create life on earth. “That fact is so much more interesting when you consider what the earliest lifeforms on Earth were capable of doing.”
“Astronomers had concentrated only on vegetation before, but with a better color palette, researchers can now look beyond a half-billion years and up to 2.5 billion years back on Earth’s history to match like periods on exoplanets,” said Lisa Lisa Kaltenegger, Cornell University professor of astronomy and director of the Carl Sagan Institute. “If an alien had used color to observe if our Earth had life, that alien would see very different colors throughout our planet’s history – going back billions of years – when different life forms dominated Earth’s surface.” (more…)
Decades of research have led scientists to look deeply into the nature of life itself — what it is, how it began on Earth, and what other worlds might also support it. A shift in focus is now emerging as NASA scientists recognize that with a strategic push the possibility of detecting life beyond Earth could be on the horizon with the creation of new teams: Center for Life Detection Science, Network for Life Detection, Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures, and Oceans Across Space and Time.