Exoplanet Biosignatures: Future Directions

Sara I. Walker, William Bains, Leroy Cronin, Shiladitya Dassarma, Sebastian Danielache, Shawn Domagal-Goldman, Betul Kacar, Nancy Y. Kiang, Adrian Lenardic, Christopher T. Reinhard, William Moore, Edward W. Schwieterman, Evgenya L. Shkolnik, Harrison B. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


We introduce a Bayesian method for guiding future directions for detection of life on exoplanets. We describe empirical and theoretical work necessary to place constraints on the relevant likelihoods, including those emerging from better understanding stellar environment, planetary climate and geophysics, geochemical cycling, the universalities of physics and chemistry, the contingencies of evolutionary history, the properties of life as an emergent complex system, and the mechanisms driving the emergence of life. We provide examples for how the Bayesian formalism could guide future search strategies, including determining observations to prioritize or deciding between targeted searches or larger lower resolution surveys to generate ensemble statistics and address how a Bayesian methodology could constrain the prior probability of life with or without a positive detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-824
Number of pages46
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian analysis
  • Biosignatures
  • Exoplanets
  • Life detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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