Acid mine drainage, shown here in Rio Tinto in Spain, has a distinctive color when viewed remotely, as does the red algae which can live there. In this image, Penny Boston and Cassie Conley sample the acidic waters.
CREDIT: Leslie Mullen

Colors of Alien Planet May Hint at Habitability

Amanda Doyle, Astrobiology Magazine
Date: 09 November 2012 Time: 11:00 AM ET

In the rapidly advancing field of exoplanet research, it always helps to be one step ahead. A handful of rocky exoplanets have been discovered to date, and it is only a matter a time before the floodgates open and the number of known terrestrial exoplanets skyrockets. These planets could bear alien life, but how do we know which ones are worthy of a detailed inspection?

The most basic criterion when looking for habitable planets is that they should have liquid water, as liquid water is essential for life as we know it. Another criterion is to search for habitats in which life is known to exist on Earth, and a new study by Siddharth Hegde and Lisa Kaltenegger at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany has revealed a method that will do just that.

Read more: Alien Planet Colors May Hint at Habitability | Space.

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