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Earth spouts ‘biosignatures’ into space, hinting that other life-bearing worlds may do the same

Forms of oxygen created by living organisms can be found in space around our planet, a new study has revealed, hinting at a potential new method for tracing life on other habitable planets in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The new discovery was made by NASA’s now-retired Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a flying telescope mounted on an adapted Boeing 747. A recently published study describes how researchers used the telescope, which is sensitive to warmth-carrying infrared wavelengths of light, to detect so-called heavy atomic oxygen in upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, the mesosphere and lower thermosphere. 

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