loading page

Strangers in a strange land: a black-box approach to identifying biosignatures
  • Caitlyn Singam
Caitlyn Singam
University of Maryland

Corresponding Author:csingam@terpmail.umd.edu

Author Profile


Searching for life on other planets and planetary bodies poses a number of challenges, especially given that there is currently no clear evidence that lifeforms can only conform to characteristics observed on Earth. While current astrobiology missions operate under the assumption that any astrobiological entities of interest will have similar properties to organisms on Earth (‘canonical’ lifeforms), the current convention of searching for direct evidence of such lifeforms (e.g. organic compounds, genetic material, etc.) is largely exclusionary to any biologically valid lifeforms which are not currently a part of the canonical model of life that is used to drive exploratory efforts. It is proposed that the definition of life be broadened to include any entities capable of maintaining homeostasis relative to an entropic environment. Thus, instead of the traditional strategy of searching for direct evidence of life conforming to Earth-based standards, i.e., looking for specific organic compounds, a new strategy could be used to indirectly identify lifeforms through their utilization of environmental resources (e.g. as energy sources).