Evidence of farming on Exoplanets should be visible to James Webb Space Telescope

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Evidence of farming on Exoplanets should be visible to James Webb Space Telescope. Invention of farming is the keystone that differentiates between modern civilization and past societies. It began with the cultivation of plants and domestication of various animals. Sustainability of farming led to emergence of cities and sharing of natural sources. Ultimately, It had a huge impact on the Earth itself.

A group of astronomers and astrobiologists say this atmospheric signature must be clearly visible from space and that a similar signal could also be generated by a farm on another planet.

“The spectral signature of such an ExoFarm is worth considering in the search for technosignatures,” say Jacob Haqq-Misra at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in Seattle, and colleagues. It could be detected by the current generation of space telescopes such as the James Webb.

James Webb Space Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope

Nitrogen fixing

Application of fertilizer to increase productivity is an essential element of agriculture. It improves access to nitrogen which is vital element to life. Nitrogen is readily available and makes up 78 per cent of the atmosphere. With the rise in overall population, the demand of nitrogen fertilizer has exploded many folds which led to the manipulating approach to creating ammonia called the Haber-Bosch process.

The researchers observe, James Webb Space Telescope, currently being commissioned, should be able to detect ammonia at the level of five parts per million in the atmosphere of a hydrogen-rich planet orbiting a nearby red dwarf. As of, current levels of ammonia (on Earth) are about 10 parts per billion.

For astrobiologists, that makes the search for nitrogen signatures an interesting pursuit. With the James Webb Telescope coming online later running year2022, that detective work might just be about to begin.

Ref: Disruption of a Planetary Nitrogen Cycle as Evidence of Extraterrestrial Agriculture : [*arxiv.org/abs/2204.05360

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