Could we detect trees on other planets?

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PostThu Dec 23, 2010 4:13 pm » by Nickelson


It sounds like a zen koan. If a tree on an alien world falls, would we notice? Christopher Doughty of the University of Oxford and Adam Wolf of Princeton University think we just might.

Image
The shadows cast by alien trees should change
the amount of light their host planet reflects as it orbits
its star


They say the shadows cast by trees would change the amount of light a planet reflects as it orbits its star. When the planet is behind its star as seen from Earth – as the moon is during its full phase – the trees would cast little visible shadow, while at other points in its orbit the shadows would grow longer from Earth's perspective. Future telescopes should be able to search for these changes in brightness, they say.

Plants and some microbes on Earth reflect a large fraction of the near-infrared light that hits them, apparently because absorbing it would cause them to overheat during photosynthesis. So any exoplanet that showed a spike in the near-infrared light it reflected, called a "red edge", might potentially host plant life.

This new technique could help distinguish between worlds with simple photosynthetic life, such as algae or bacterial mats, and those in which competition for light and the need to distribute water and nutrients drove the evolution of branching, tree-like life-forms.

Nancy Kiang of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City says the proposal is interesting, but cautions that steep mountains could mimic the effect.

Wolf counters that an Earth-like planet exhibiting erosion and plate tectonics would probably boast few sharp geological features, noting that less than 1 per cent of Earth's surface has a slope of 45 degrees or more.

Visit source for more information:
newscientist.com
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PostThu Dec 23, 2010 4:19 pm » by Smokeydog


surely it wud be easier to send something like the satelite they used for google earth to go have a looksey
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PostThu Dec 23, 2010 4:21 pm » by Germanpils


but so would mountains and hills and so on...
You know, you don't see with your eyes,
you see with your brain and the more
words your brain has, the more things you can see.
(KRS-ONE)

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PostThu Dec 23, 2010 4:28 pm » by Nickelson


germanpils wrote:but so would mountains and hills and so on...


What would it mean when we can detect trees from the more common hills and mountains. What do you think.

When we are able to detect them from Earth with our telescopes it would make a great difference, don't you think?
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PostThu Dec 23, 2010 8:18 pm » by Marcydare


Mars Anomaly Research . com

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PostThu Dec 23, 2010 8:18 pm » by Freeyourmindnow


no snake today?



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