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Scientists Say Laughing Gas May Be Key to Finding Life on Distant Planets

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Scientists Say, Laughing Gas May Be Key , to Finding Life on Distant Planets.
Phys.org reports that scientists have suggested that the search for life on planets around other stars has overlooked a key chemical: laughing gas.
Typically, scientists are searching for chemical compounds in a planet's atmosphere that are found in abundance in Earth's atmosphere today.
There's been a lot of thought
put into oxygen and methane
as biosignatures. Fewer researchers
have seriously considered
nitrous oxide, but we think
that may be a mistake, Eddie Schwieterman, astrobiologist in UCR's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, via Phys.org.
The team first determined how much
nitrous oxide could be produced by
living things on a planet similar to Earth.
Then, the team used simulations to determine amounts of N₂O that an observatory like the
James Webb Space Telescope could detect. .
Then, the team used simulations to determine amounts of N₂O that an observatory like the
James Webb Space Telescope could detect. .
In a star system like TRAPPIST-1,
the nearest and best system to observe
the atmospheres of rocky planets, you could
potentially detect nitrous oxide at levels
comparable to CO2 or methane, Eddie Schwieterman, astrobiologist in UCR's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, via Phys.org.
The team believes that the current search for life fails
to account for periods in Earth's history when
conditions would have allowed for higher levels of N₂O.
We wanted to put this idea forward
to show it's not out of the question
we'd find this biosignature gas,
if we look for it, Eddie Schwieterman, astrobiologist in UCR's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, via Phys.org.
Details of the team's work were
published in 'The Astrophysical Journal.'
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