Back to Volume
Paper: Search For Chiral Signatures in the Earthshine
Volume: 420, Bioastronomy 2007: Molecules, Microbes and Extraterrestrial Life
Page: 371
Authors: Sterzik, M. F.; Bagnulo, S.
Abstract: We describe an experiment to search for circular polarization in the spectrum of the Earthshine as induced by biotic material on the surface of the Earth. Organic material on Earth is abundant and its helical molecular structure is known to produce circular polarization of reflected diffuse light up to levels of one percent in the visible wavelength regime. We use the spectropolarimetric capability of FORS1 mounted at the Very Large Telescope in Paranal/Chile to detect such features. Our experiment is a benchmark required for future attempts to detect biotic material on other astronomical objects. We present the idea of our experiment, an estimate of the instrumental sensitivity required, and a short description of the observations. We expect to reach a final accuracy of 10-5 to measure Stokes V/I.
Back to Volume