New telescope to seek pollution as sign of extraterrestrial life

New telescope to seek pollution as sign of extraterrestrial life

Alien Smog: How Pollution Could Help Locate E.T.In the search for life beyond Earth, astronomers should look for signs of pollution in the atmospheres of alien planets outside the Earth’s solar system, a new study says. The next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2018, could hunt for worlds harboring alien life by sniffing their atmospheres for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), greenhouse gases that destroy ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere. Of course, to very advanced civilizations, Earth’s own greenhouse gases might signal a primitive world, the scientists said. “We consider industrial pollution as a sign of intelligent life, but perhaps civilizations more advanced than us, with their own SETI programs, will consider pollution as a sign of unintelligent life since it’s not smart to contaminate your own air,” study leader Henry Lin, a student at Harvard University, said in a statement.

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