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2014 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  SEP 2013 – DEC 2014

Biosignatures in Ancient Rocks - Kasting Group

Project Summary

We have been working on two things: 1) the question of whether there are plausible “false positives” for life on extrasolar planets, i.e., high abiotic O2 and/or O3 levels that might be confused with evidence for photosynthesis, and 2) hydrodynamic escape of hydrogen from H2- or H2O-rich primitive atmospheres. We are developing a two-component model to describe this process. Old single-component models evidently do not obey the diffusion limit, so are are trying to remedy that.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
8 Publications
1 Field Site
Field Sites

Project Progress

We are close to writing a paper on the false positives project. We can reproduce the apparent false positives of other groups (Hu et al., 2012; Domagal-Goldman et al., 2014; Tian et al., 2014), but we can also show that these results are based on an unphysical choice of lower boundary conditions which would not be expected to occur on a real planet.

We also have been working on a variety of other astrobiology projects which are related to the project described here in different ways. See our list of publications for late 2013-2014.

    James Kasting James Kasting
    Project Investigator
    Objective 1.1
    Formation and evolution of habitable planets.

    Objective 2.1
    Mars exploration.

    Objective 4.1
    Earth's early biosphere.

    Objective 7.2
    Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems