Transforming a hostile world to one suitable for life is known as terraforming.
Credit: Daein Ballard/Wikipedia

Could chlorofluorocarbons someday provide evidence of alien life?

November 22, 2012 by Charles Q. Choi

Hairspray might one day serve as the sign that aliens have reshaped distant worlds, researchers say. Such research to find signs of alien technology is now open to funding from the public.

Science fiction has long imagined that humans could transform hostile alien worlds into livable ones, a procedure known as terraforming. For instance, to colonize Mars, scientists have suggested warming the red planet and thickening its extraordinarily thin atmosphere so that humans can roam its surface without having to wear spacesuits. To do so, plans to terraform Mars often involve vast amounts of greenhouses gases to trap enough heat from the Sun, forcing carbon dioxide frozen on the planet’s surface to turn into gas.

If humans might one day terraform planets, aliens with more advanced technology might have already done so. If that’s the case, astronomers could look for telltale signs of such changes to reveal that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists.

“Our hypothesis is that evidence of intelligent life might be evident in a planetary atmosphere,” said astrobiologist Mark Claire at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, a nonprofit network of scientists across the world.

Read more: Could chlorofluorocarbons someday provide evidence of alien life? — phys.org.

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