The FlyPol instrument, which was used to measure biosignatures from the air, aboard the helicopter. Credit: Courtesy of Lucas Patty

It could be a milestone on the path to detecting life on other planets: Scientists under the leadership of the University of Bern and of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS detect a key molecular property of all living organisms from a helicopter flying several kilometers above ground. The measurement technology could also open up opportunities for remote sensing of the Earth.

Left hands and right hands are almost perfect mirror images of each other. But whatever way they are twisted and turned, they cannot be superimposed onto each other. This is why the left glove simply won’t fit the right hand as well as it fits the left. In science, this property is referred to as chirality.

FlyPol Spectropolarimeter Schematic

A schematic illustration of the FlyPol spectropolarimeter. Credit: Lucas Patty

Just like hands…

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