FSpaceRPG article

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One of the hallmarks of the spectral signature of Earth was the large amount of near infrared light radiating off the planet. This is caused by this kind of radiation reflecting of the chlorophyll in plants.

It was determined in the early 21st century that different kinds of plants gave off distinctive colour patterns, typically very unique to each species.

From a distance the likes of terrestrial planet finding telescope arrays used later that century could not only determine the chemical composition of rocky world atmospheres, the presence and level of water (or other liquid) coverage, but also the presence of life in a dominant form of coverage.

It was expected that most rocky exoplanets would be hotter and more arid than Earth, but is life was present in the forms of bacterial mats or lichen, the distinct spectral signatures would give them away compared to naked rocky surfaces.

These observations proved to be valid and were the basis of defining targets for many of the initial sunlight probes to systems in the near stellar neighbourhood, along with the first hyperdrive interstellar missions.

The technique is still used by starship surveyors when they scan systems from the outer reaches of a system to build astrographic charts and assign targets for followup exobiological missions.

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