A New Invention to Detect Extraterrestrial Plant Life

A New Invention to Detect Extraterrestrial Plant Life

Sofia Hernandez, Student Journalist

When we talk about extraterrestrial life, we ​​always imagine green beings with big, long, and thin eyes. However, soon a new way of seeing alien life (and more realistically) will be released.

A diagram of the TreePol spectropolarimeter.

According to Alba Soriano, a writer for BlogThinkBig, a new way to see extraterrestrial plant life has been invented. She goes on to discuss how it can be observed and how the device works to achieve this.

The name of the optical device (which is still only a prototype) is the TreePol spectropolarimeter. The creators of this fascinating instrument are: Lucas Patty, Inge Loes ten Kate, Wybren Jan Buma, Rob J.M. van Spanning, Gábor Steinbach, Freek Ariese, and Frans Snik. It was created at the University of Virje in Amsterdam. And how does it work? It is able to detect the light that the “vegetables” of other planets are capable of reflecting. Despite the fact that, as mentioned previously, it is only a prototype, its creators trust that it will be able to carry out its purpose with total success. This is due to the fact that, as Lucas Patty (the main inventor of the device) writes, “The phenomenon of chirality in biological systems affects the way they reflect light, causing a fractional circular polarization, which means that the the way organisms reflect light is unique and unmistakable.” Using this technology, they hope to find plant life on other planets. 

The prototype has been put to the test, and actually passed the first test. Then, it was decided that the prototype should be taken to the roof of the university in which it was invented to examine the plant life that the university contained around it, however the prototype did not work because the grass was fake, so it was impossible to detect life.

In this way we can appreciate how it will be possible in the future to discover new life on other planets, but not the kind of living beings we usually imagine, but perhaps even better ones.