The Hunt for Alien Worlds

The Leonardo is opening a new travelling exhibit on, January 28th, 2017. One of the major themes of this exhibit, Alien Worlds and Androids, is the scientific search for alien life amongst the stars — called astrobiology. And this science has a few fascinating strategies of looking for extraterrestrials.

 

The Only One

As far as we know, any given planet is statistically unlikely to harbor life. We do know of exactly one planet that sustains life and it’s called Earth. So it makes some sense that to find life elsewhere we should begin by studying the conditions that allowed life to flourish on our home world. Looking at Earth, we notice that it has a stable atmosphere that contains both signs of water and oxygen. Peering out into space, we start by searching for precisely those things.

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The Goldilocks Zone

Back in 1953, scientists proposed the idea that liquid water could exist on a planet within a range of distances from a given star. These “circumstellar” zones eventually garnered the name “Goldilocks zones,” because, like the fairytale, they suggested “just right” conditions where life could exist. The Kepler Telescope was launched in 2009 and data received 4 years later suggests there could be 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in a “Goldilocks zone.”

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The Light of Alien Worlds

When astronomers look for signs of a gas like oxygen, they look at the kind of light a planet gives off, because this gives hints as to what kind of molecules are in its atmosphere. Oxygen is particularly important to look for because it’s something Earth’s plant life makes. Imagine that, the first alien we ever discover could be some weird vegetable.

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About Alien Worlds and Androids

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At the intersection of science, technology and art, is the final frontier. And there is nowhere better to explore that frontier than at The Leonardo. That’s why we’re excited to announce our next traveling exhibit, Alien Worlds and Androids, with content provided by JPL and NASA. It may be an out of this world experience, but you will leave feeling like you took a fantastic journey through space and time.  Alien Worlds and Androids brings guests face-to-face with worlds far beyond their own, and introduces the technology that takes them there.  This brand new exhibit opens to the public on Saturday January 28, 2017.  It will only be at The Leonardo for a limited time.

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