NASA’s Curiosity Rover has detected an organic molecule in Mars’ Gale Crater that is typically associated with fossil fuels and fungi on Earth, another potential sign that life once existed—or continues to exist—somewhere on or in the Red Planet. Additionally, the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter returned a picture of an unusual hole in theread more

Due to the limitations presented by our culture’s fledgling space travel technology, simply going to a planet orbiting another star isn’t a practical way of determining whether or not there’s any life there. Instead, researchers are using indirect methods of looking for extra-solar life, such as the conditions presented by the planet’s host star in relation to it’s orbit, the presence of an atmosphere, temperature, and so on. Now, a research team has devised a list of signature gases that astronomers can look for, that might be produced when a potential extraterrestrial organism metabolizes.
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