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Forests will be detectable even in distant solar systems

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posted on May, 6 2011 @ 11:46 AM

“Tree-like” life forms might be detectable even from across the vast spaces that separate us from plan­ets in other solar systems, two scientists propose.
But any test of the claim will have to wait until humans are able to photograph Earth-like planets out­side our solar system, an achievement that NASA scientists say they’re working toward.

Now, researchers Christopher E. Doughty and Adam Wolf of the Carnegie Institution in Stanford, California, pro­pose an additional technique that could reveal whether plants are “tree-like” in structure.

These tree-like forms cast shadows, they noted. The large-scale pattern of shadows would lead the light reflected off the vegetation to take on specific brightness and color characteristics. For a viewer on a distant planet, Doughty and Wolf wrote, these characteristics would depend on the angles at which the viewer, the planet and its sun lie with respect to each other; but these characteristics would change in a predictable way over time, producing detectable pattern.
“The presence of tree-like structures is clearly distinguishable” from, say, flat ground with the same color, wrote the researchers, who developed a computer simulation to work out this special pattern of reflectance characteristics.
If this vegetation were wide spread enough, it would affect the reflectance properties of the whole planet, they added. Clouds would be a problem, they noted, but could potentially be taken in to account.
Most interestingly, they added, the reflectance pattern due to wide spread tree-like structures is distinctive enough that it can be observed even if a planet is barely visible, appearing as a single point of light in our telescopes. The changes in this dot’s brightness and color at different “sun/view geometries,” they explained, should be the giveaway.

I still thought we were having trouble detecting these smaller planets now we are on our way to photographing them to distinguish surfaces elements!
I know I am already too old to be able to ever go into space exploration, chances are my children are too old also. But the future exploration of these foreign worlds have always fascinated me. Like previous explorers of our planet, crossing the vast unknown oceans. I dream of a time were we will be crossing the vast emptiness of space to see what is on the other side.
Innovations in science brings us ever closer to these dreams ever day.
Soon we will be the aliens in the sky the residents of these planets talk about. . .

World of Science

posted on May, 6 2011 @ 12:01 PM
Theoretical BS. These wild claims are really getting old.

posted on May, 6 2011 @ 12:14 PM

Originally posted by sprtpilot
Theoretical BS. These wild claims are really getting old.

All science starts as theoretical BS, the real trick is to get it to work.

With this type of attitude we would still be beating each other over the heads with hip bones and eating raw meat!
So if you have some expert insight to what they are doing wrong or why this will never be possible please, I welcome you to share your genius with the rest of us. . .

posted on May, 6 2011 @ 12:24 PM
Seriously that is ridiculous,
They may be able to detect atmospheric
Changes in the atmosphere.
No chance of seeing the outlines of trees at that distance.
No chance in hell

posted on May, 6 2011 @ 12:36 PM
reply to post by pryed -eyed-one

See above post. . .

Actually, with the new telescopic designs on the planning board they are on there way. Combining several smaller telescopes over vast distances increases the power exponentially. But this technology is in its infancy right now also. But since it is cheaper to look, then to go, this is going to be the first part of space exploration to take place within this century.

Sad to see members using words like impossible or ridiculous, reminds me of the Pope who ordered Galileo imprisoned!
edit on 5/6/2011 by AnteBellum because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 6 2011 @ 12:38 PM
I'd say that if we got to the point where we could even get that 'point of light' from a distant Earth-like planet, that should be enough in itself to detect the possibility for life.

They can analyze the wavelengths of light returned and get a pretty good idea of the general composition based off the composition of the star it's reflecting.

Even more simply...if the light is blue...

Detecting trees? I doubt it...they might be able to detect their affect on the atmosphere, but given the unknowns, they would just know that something was at work, not that it was some alien type of tree.

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