Status Report

The Vegetation Red Edge Spectroscopic Feature as a Surface Biomarker

By SpaceRef Editor
December 30, 2002
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Astrophysics, abstract

From: Sara Seager <>
Date: Fri, 27 Dec 2002 18:35:07 GMT (75kb)

The Vegetation Red Edge Spectroscopic Feature as a Surface Biomarker

S. Seager (DTM/CIW),
E.B. Ford (Princeton)

Comments: Astrophysics of Life conference proceedings, STScI May 2002, 9 pages

The search for Earth-like extrasolar planets is in part motivated by the
potential detection of spectroscopic biomarkers. Spectroscopic biomarkers are
spectral features that are either consistent with life, indicative of
habitability, or provide clues to a planet’s habitability. Most attention so
far has been given to atmospheric biomarkers, gases such as O2, O3, H2O, CO,
and CH4. Here we discuss surface biomarkers. Surface biomarkers that have
large, distinct, abrupt changes in their spectra may be detectable in an
extrasolar planet’s spectrum at wavelengths that penetrate to the planetary
surface. Earth has such a surface biomarker: the vegetation “red edge”
spectroscopic feature. Recent interest in Earth’s surface biomarker has
motivated Earthshine observations of the spatially unresolved Earth and two
recent studies may have detected the vegetation red edge feature in Earth’s
hemispherically integrated spectrum. A photometric time series in different
colors should help in detecting unusual surface features in extrasolar
Earth-like planets.

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