Astrobotany


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Astrobotany

 

a branch of astrobiology devoted to investigating the vegetation that may exist on the planets of the solar system, especially Mars.

Astrobotany has been developing since 1945 on the initiative of G. A.Tikhov. The main evidence for the existence of vegetation on Mars was thought to be the seasonal changes observed there, including the melting of the polar caps and the darkening of some surface regions, which was attributed to the growth of vegetation. The differences between the optical properties of the dark regions of Mars and the optical properties of terrestrial vegetation (absence of chlorophyll in the absorption band spectrum and low reflectance in the red end of the spectrum) were considered the result of the adaptation of vegetation to the extremely harsh Martian conditions. This occurs to some extent on earth—in the Pamirs, northern Siberia, and elsewhere. However, the methods of astrobotany cannot, furnish direct evidence of the existence of vegetation on other planets.

V. G. FESENKOV