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Biosignature
A biosignature (sometimes called chemical fossil or molecular fossil) is any substance – such as an element, isotope, or molecule – or phenomenon that provides scientific evidence of past or present life. Measurable attributes of life include its complex physical or chemical structures and its use of Thermodynamic free energy, free energy and the production of biomass and Cellular waste product, wastes. A biosignature can provide evidence for living organisms outside the Earth and can be directly or indirectly detected by searching for their unique byproducts. Types In general, biosignatures can be grouped into ten broad categories:NASA Astrobiology Strategy 2015
.(PDF), NASA
#Isotope patterns: Isotopic evidence or patterns that require b ...
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Fossil
A fossil (from Classical Latin , ) is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, hair, petrified wood and DNA remnants. The totality of fossils is known as the ''fossil record''. Paleontology is the study of fossils: their age, method of formation, and evolutionary significance. Specimens are usually considered to be fossils if they are over 10,000 years old. The oldest fossils are around 3.48 billion years old to 4.1 billion years old. Early edition, published online before print. The observation in the 19th century that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led to the recognition of a geological timescale and the relative ages of different fossils. The development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed scientists to quantitatively measure the ...
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Oxygen
Oxygen is the chemical element with the symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen group in the periodic table, a highly reactive nonmetal, and an oxidizing agent that readily forms oxides with most elements as well as with other compounds. Oxygen is Earth's most abundant element, and after hydrogen and helium, it is the third-most abundant element in the universe. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless diatomic gas with the formula . Diatomic oxygen gas currently constitutes 20.95% of the Earth's atmosphere, though this has changed considerably over long periods of time. Oxygen makes up almost half of the Earth's crust in the form of oxides.Atkins, P.; Jones, L.; Laverman, L. (2016).''Chemical Principles'', 7th edition. Freeman. Many major classes of organic molecules in living organisms contain oxygen atoms, such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and ...
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Technosignature
Technosignature or technomarker is any measurable property or effect that provides scientific evidence of past or present technology. Technosignatures are analogous to biosignatures, which signal the presence of life, whether intelligent or not. Some authors prefer to exclude radio transmissions from the definition, but such restrictive usage is not widespread. Jill Tarter has proposed that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) be renamed "the search for technosignatures". Various types of technosignatures, such as radiation leakage from megascale astroengineering installations such as Dyson spheres, the light from an extraterrestrial ecumenopolis, or Shkadov thrusters with the power to alter the orbits of stars around the Galactic Center, may be detectable with hypertelescopes. Some examples of technosignatures are described in Paul Davies's 2010 book '' The Eerie Silence'', although the terms "technosignature" and "technomarker" do not appear in the book. A ...
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Mineral
In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.John P. Rafferty, ed. (2011): Minerals'; p. 1. In the series ''Geology: Landforms, Minerals, and Rocks''. Rosen Publishing Group. The geological definition of mineral normally excludes compounds that occur only in living organisms. However, some minerals are often biogenic (such as calcite) or are organic compounds in the sense of chemistry (such as mellite). Moreover, living organisms often synthesize inorganic minerals (such as hydroxylapatite) that also occur in rocks. The concept of mineral is distinct from rock, which is any bulk solid geologic material that is relatively homogeneous at a large enough scale. A rock may consist of one type of mineral, or may be an aggregate of two or more different types of minerals, spacially segregated into distinct ...
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Stromatolite
Stromatolites () or stromatoliths () are layered sedimentary formations ( microbialite) that are created mainly by photosynthetic microorganisms such as cyanobacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria, and Pseudomonadota (formerly proteobacteria). These microorganisms produce adhesive compounds that cement sand and other rocky materials to form mineral " microbial mats". In turn, these mats build up layer by layer, growing gradually over time. A stromatolite may grow to a meter or more. Although they are rare today, fossilized stromatolites provide records of ancient life on Earth. Morphology Stromatolites are layered, biochemical, accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains in biofilms (specifically microbial mats), through the action of certain microbial lifeforms, especially cyanobacteria. They exhibit a variety of forms and structures, or morphologies, including conical, stratiform, domal, columnar, and branchi ...
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Metabolism
Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. The three main functions of metabolism are: the conversion of the energy in food to energy available to run cellular processes; the conversion of food to building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates; and the elimination of metabolic wastes. These enzyme-catalyzed reactions allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. The word metabolism can also refer to the sum of all chemical reactions that occur in living organisms, including digestion and the transportation of substances into and between different cells, in which case the above described set of reactions within the cells is called intermediary (or intermediate) metabolism. Metabolic reactions may be categorized as '' catabolic'' – the ''breaking down'' of compounds (for example, of glucose to pyruvate ...
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Photodissociation
Photodissociation, photolysis, photodecomposition, or photofragmentation is a chemical reaction in which molecules of a chemical compound are broken down by photons. It is defined as the interaction of one or more photons with one target molecule. Photodissociation is not limited to visible light. Any photon with sufficient energy can affect the chemical bonds of a chemical compound. Since a photon's energy is inversely proportional to its wavelength, electromagnetic radiations with the energy of visible light or higher, such as ultraviolet light, x-rays, and gamma rays can induce such reactions. Photolysis in photosynthesis Photolysis is part of the light-dependent reaction or light phase or photochemical phase or Hill reaction of photosynthesis. The general reaction of photosynthetic photolysis can be given in terms of photons as: :\ce + 2 \text \longrightarrow \ce The chemical nature of "A" depends on the type of organism. Purple sulfur bacteria oxidize hydrogen sulfide ...
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Spectral Line
A spectral line is a dark or bright line in an otherwise uniform and continuous spectrum, resulting from emission or absorption of light in a narrow frequency range, compared with the nearby frequencies. Spectral lines are often used to identify atoms and molecules. These "fingerprints" can be compared to the previously collected ones of atoms and molecules, and are thus used to identify the atomic and molecular components of stars and planets, which would otherwise be impossible. Types of line spectra Spectral lines are the result of interaction between a quantum system (usually atoms, but sometimes molecules or atomic nuclei) and a single photon. When a photon has about the right amount of energy (which is connected to its frequency) to allow a change in the energy state of the system (in the case of an atom this is usually an electron changing orbitals), the photon is absorbed. Then the energy will be spontaneously re-emitted, either as one photon at the same frequ ...
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Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel the organism's activities. Some of this chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules, such as sugars and starches, which are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water – hence the name ''photosynthesis'', from the Greek ''phōs'' (), "light", and ''synthesis'' (), "putting together". Most plants, algae, and cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis; such organisms are called photoautotrophs. Photosynthesis is largely responsible for producing and maintaining the oxygen content of the Earth's atmosphere, and supplies most of the energy necessary for life on Earth. Although photosynthesis is performed differently by different species, the process always begins when energy from light is absorbed by proteins called reaction centers that contain green chlorophyll (and other colored) pigments/chromoph ...
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False Positives And False Negatives
A false positive is an error in binary classification in which a test result incorrectly indicates the presence of a condition (such as a disease when the disease is not present), while a false negative is the opposite error, where the test result incorrectly indicates the absence of a condition when it is actually present. These are the two kinds of errors in a binary test, in contrast to the two kinds of correct result (a and a ). They are also known in medicine as a false positive (or false negative) diagnosis, and in statistical classification as a false positive (or false negative) error. In statistical hypothesis testing the analogous concepts are known as type I and type II errors, where a positive result corresponds to rejecting the null hypothesis, and a negative result corresponds to not rejecting the null hypothesis. The terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences in detail and interpretation due to the differences between medical testing and stat ...
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Earliest Known Life Forms
The earliest known life forms on Earth are believed to be fossilized microorganisms found in hydrothermal vent precipitates, considered to be about 3.42 billion years old. The earliest time for the origin of life on Earth is at least 3.77 billion years ago, possibly as early as 4.28 billion years ago—not long after the oceans formed 4.5 billion years ago, and after the formation of the Earth 4.54 billion years ago. The earliest ''direct'' evidence of life on Earth is from microfossils of microorganisms permineralized in 3.465-billion-year-old Australian Apex chert rocks. Biosphere Earth remains the only place in the universe known to harbor life. The origin of life on Earth was at least 3.77 billion years ago, possibly as early as 4.28 billion years ago. The Earth's biosphere extends down to at least below the surface, and up to at least into the atmosphere, and includes soil, hydrothermal vents, and rock. Further, the biosphere has been found to extend at least b ...
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Metabolic Waste
Metabolic wastes or excrements are substances left over from metabolic processes (such as cellular respiration) which cannot be used by the organism (they are surplus or toxic), and must therefore be excreted. This includes nitrogen compounds, water, CO2, phosphates, sulphates, etc. Animals treat these compounds as excretes. Plants have chemical "machinery" which transforms some of them (primarily the nitrogen compounds) into useful substances. All the metabolic wastes are excreted in a form of water solutes through the excretory organs ( nephridia, Malpighian tubules, kidneys), with the exception of CO2, which is excreted together with the water vapor throughout the lungs. The elimination of these compounds enables the chemical homeostasis of the organism. Nitrogen wastes The nitrogen compounds through which excess nitrogen is eliminated from organisms are called nitrogenous wastes () or nitrogen wastes. They are ammonia, urea, uric acid, and creatinine. All of these s ...
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