Are there aliens out there in space? Do they look like the ones we see in movies, with big green eyes? Maybe not, but scientists in the United States have come up with a clever way to find out if there might be life on other planets.
They created a smart computer system, like the ones we use to play games or chat with our friends. But this computer doesn’t look for green aliens. Instead, it searches for tiny signs that life might be hiding on a different planet.
These tiny signs are called “molecular biosignatures,” and they can tell us if life exists somewhere other than Earth. The scientists say their computer system is really good at this job – it’s right about 90% of the time!
So, how does it work? Well, scientists have known for a long time that if you mix some simple chemicals together in the right way, you can create the building blocks of life, like amino acids. They’ve even found these building blocks in space.
But here’s the tricky part: sometimes, these chemicals can form without any help from living things. So, we need to be sure if we find them in space that they’re really from life and not just random chemistry.
To figure this out, the scientists used a fancy machine called “pyrolysis gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry” (GCMS) to look at lots of different samples. Some of these samples came from living things like humans and plants, while others came from things like rocks or were made in a lab.
They heated up these samples without any air (oxygen) and watched what happened. Then, they used their smart computer to analyze the results. This computer learned how to tell if the samples were made by living things or not.
The exciting part is that this isn’t just about finding aliens. It can also help us understand our own history. We can use these methods to see if ancient samples from Earth or Mars were once alive. This could tell us when life first began on our planet and if life on Earth and other planets share a common origin.
So, while we might not be finding green aliens with big eyes, this research is a big step forward in our quest to find signs of life beyond our home planet. Who knows what else we might discover in the vast universe?