This sounds out there, but stick with me. Scientists have been able to determine that there is life on Earth by observing the way the moon reflects light from the earth. Obviously, we know there is, in fact, life on earth because we're here. The scientists are studying this method of discovering life in hopes that it can be applied to other planets throughout the galaxy in an effort to discover life elsewhere.
The scientists are using the ESO Very Large Telescope to analyze earthshine light reflected on the moon for indicators of organic life. Specifically, they are looking for certain combinations of gases. According to the scientists, these bio signatures are difficult to find with other methods, but the new method the researchers are developing works more easily. The team looks for several things in the light, including how bright it is in different colors and how light is polarized.
The team says that this new technique clearly shows the bio signatures of life in the moon reflected earthshine. Using this technique the team could determine that the atmosphere was partly cloudy and part of the surface is covered by oceans. The team was also able to determine that there was vegetation.
"We used a trick called earthshine observation to look at the Earth as if it were an exoplanet," says Michael Sterzik of ESO.
"The sun shines on the Earth and this light is reflected back to the surface of the Moon. The lunar surface acts as a giant mirror and reflects the Earth’s light back to us — and this is what we have observed with the VLT."
[via TG Daily]