Title: Spectrum of a habitable world: Earthshine in the near-infrared
Authors: Turnbull, MC ×
Traub, WA
Jucks, KW
Woolf, NJ
Meyer, MR
Gorlova, Nadiya
Skrutskie, MF
Wilson, JC #
Issue Date: Jun-2006
Publisher: Univ chicago press
Series Title: Astrophysical journal vol:644 issue:1 pages:551-559
Abstract: To characterize the spectrum of Earth viewed as an extrasolar planet, we observed the spatially integrated near-infrared (0.7 - 2.4 mu m) reflection spectrum of Earth via the dark side of the Moon (earthshine). After contributions from the Sun, Moon, and local atmosphere were removed, the resulting spectrum was fitted with a simple model of the reflectivity of Earth. The best model fit is dominated by the reflection spectrum of the atmosphere above medium-altitude water clouds, with lesser contributions from high-altitude ice clouds and from the ground. The spectral features seen are H2O ( six strong band structures from 0.7 to 2.0 mu m), CO2 (six moderate-strength features from 1.4 to 2.1 mu m), O-2 (two moderate-strength features at 0.76 and 1.26 mu m), and several weak CH4 features. Interpreted as a spectrum of an extrasolar planet, we would confidently conclude that this is a habitable planet, based on the presence of strong water bands. Furthermore, the simultaneous presence of oxygen and methane is a strong indicator of biological activity. We might also conclude that the planet is geologically active, based on the presence of CO2, water, and a dynamic atmosphere ( inferred from cirrus clouds, cumulus clouds, and clear-air fractions in our model fit). This suggests that it would be valuable for the Terrestrial Planet Finder - Coronagraph (TPF-C) mission to include near-infrared spectroscopy capability. On the basis of the present work, we suggest that future long-term monitoring of the earthshine would allow us to discern how the globally integrated spectrum changes with planet rotation, cloud cover, and seasons.
ISSN: 0004-637X
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Non-KU Leuven Association publications
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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