Do YOU believe in aliens? Well if you do, get excited because the article, Is oxygen the cosmic key to alien technology? discusses how researchers are expanding the search parameters for extraterrestrial life. To do this, they are considering biological markers as well as technological ones. In a study published in Nature Astronomy, scientists Adam Frank and Amedeo Balbi explore the connection between atmospheric oxygen and the possible growth of advanced technology on different planets. 

Atmospheric oxygen pertains to the presence of O2 in the atmosphere, particularly within the troposphere, which facilitates the flourishing of life. It is deemed a necessity for humans, surpassing even the importance of food. 

Atmospheric oxygen is also crucial for Cellular Respiration specifically in the Krebs cycle (known as the Citric Acid cycle) and during Oxidative Phosphorylation.

CellRespiration

In my AP Biology class, I learned that during the Krebs cycle, acetyl CoA molecules enter the mitochondria and are oxidized, producing high-energy electrons. In the subsequent electron transport chain, these electrons combine with oxygen to form water, facilitating the regeneration of molecules for continued energy production. Without sufficient atmospheric oxygen, this process is impaired, disrupting cellular respiration and the creation of ATP.

Now… back to the aliens, researchers introduce the concept of “technospheres,” expansive realms of advanced technology that emit detectable signs known as “technosignatures.” Technosignatures are essentially evidence of advanced life. This aids in the research as technosignatures extend the scope of conventional biological markers in the search for extraterrestrial life. Researchers can investigate the potential of highly developed civilizations displaying indications of sophisticated technology by considering technological evidence. This broadening of the search parameters expands the research’s scope beyond traditional methods.

Technosignatures
Moreover, it is stated that high oxygen concentrations are necessary for the development of advanced technospheres, as oxygen is crucial for processes like open-air combustion, a key component of technological civilizations. The research proposes the “oxygen bottleneck,” indicating that high oxygen levels are essential for the emergence of technological species.

The discussion of oxygen levels ties back to Earth’s atmosphere. It prompts reflection on environmental issues and the importance of maintaining a balanced atmosphere for the well-being of our planet. An issue that I think about daily is climate change and while the immediate focus of the research is on oxygen and technology, it prompts the reader to consider the broader environmental challenges we face, including those related to climate change.

Returning to the study, the findings emphasize the importance of prioritizing planets with high oxygen levels in the search for extraterrestrial technosignatures with the intention of expanding space search parameters. 

After reading this article and doing outside research I believe this study to be highly important because it contributes to our understanding of the conditions necessary for advanced technology beyond Earth. As someone who has always been fascinated by outer space and extraterritorial beings, it is valuable for me to be educated on advancements in technology and science. So … aliens, real or not? Let me know what you think in the comments!